Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keeping a Promise Black, White Churches Renewing Bond

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Keeping a Promise Black, White Churches Renewing Bond

Article excerpt

Christian men from two diverse churches in Jacksonville will

travel together to a national rally in Washington next month for

a day of unity, repentance and prayer.

Their sojourn will exemplify the kind of racial reconciliation

that organizers of Stand in the Gap want to accomplish as part

of the Oct. 4 event.

Local organizers expect about 5,000 Northeast Florida men to

attend the rally, including busloads from First Baptist Church

of Mandarin, a predominantly African-American church, and

Mandarin Baptist Church, a predominantly white church.

They plan to join an estimated 500,000 men on Washington's Mall

for the event sponsored by Promise Keepers, a national

evangelical Christian men's organization known for its stadium

conferences.

More than 40 speakers -- including authors, religious leaders

and professors -- are on the free program, which includes

worship, music, liturgy, prayer and brief messages.

"We're going there basically to confess, pray and stand

united," said Bob Ward, leader of the Promise Keepers Task Force

in Jacksonville, which is taking four busloads of men. "God has

called us out to be united, to put aside our differences and to

be one church."

Interest is so great there are no chartered buses available in

Jacksonville the first weekend in October. Many have been

reserved for Stand in the Gap, the Jacksonville Jaguars home

football game or other out-of-town venues.

"When people call and say, `You have a bus for the October 3rd

weekend?' I want to laugh and say, `Can you pick another

weekend?' " said Kim Newman-Jones, a charter sales manager for

East Coast Transportation. "All three of our 57-passenger buses

were sold within a week after last year's Promise Keepers

convention in Jacksonville. I know there's not a bus in town

available for that weekend. If there is one, it's because of a

last-minute cancellation."

In Washington, the Mayor's Office for Emergency Preparedness

estimates the assembly to rival the Million Man March held in

1995.

Racial diversity will be a top issue at the national rally. …

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