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Freedom Foundation to counter Elkdale service

Tonight two different church services will approach the same subject: the role of the Freedom Foundation in this community.

At Selma Community Church, pastored by the Rev. Ronald Smith, the Rev. Ezekial Pettway will deliver a sermon at 6:30 p.m. Smith, a foundation volunteer and regular on the radio program “Real Talk,” said he was going to attend another service, but decided instead to hold one at his church in support of the foundation.

That meeting comes at the same time as one planned at 6 p.m. with Alan McConnell, an expert on cults, at Elkdale Baptist Church on Highland Avenue.

McConnell said he would talk about what constitutes a group being able to call another group a cult and how the teachings of Freedom Foundation founder Mark Duke compare to that of Christianity.

The Selma Times-Journal will stream the meeting at Elkdale Baptist Church live at www.selmatimesjournal.com. People who watch the live broadcast will be able to make comments via a chat room.

Members of the Freedom Foundation have said they belong to various churches over Selma and that they do not have a doctrine as church with the Freedom Foundation. The Freedom Foundation’s board members stress the group is a non-profit made up of a diverse group of volunteers who help in the community.

However, McConnell and Elkdale Pastor Micah Gandy each said that once the radio program run by the Freedom Foundation — “Real Talk” — began discussing doctrinal-type issues, then there was a need to discuss any differences between the foundation and traditional Christianity.

Smith said at one point, he had intended to attend the Elkdale service to see what McConnell had to say. But after evaluating the circumstances, Smith said he decided to have the service — a unity service as he calls it — at his church on the corner of Franklin and Selma Avenues.

“I thought it would help us stay focused and not get off track,” Smith said. “We are going to keep doing the things that have to be done in the community and not get into a verbal war.”