Mercer Commons’ Beloved Community Symposium to Focus on ‘Next Steps’


MACON — The Fifth Annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium, sponsored by Mercer University’s Mercer Commons, will be held Feb. 17-18 in Macon. This year’s event is built on the theme, “Next Steps Toward the Beloved Community,” and will include presentations by two noted pastors and authors.

“Macon is poised at a historical moment when we can move in new ways toward realizing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of the ‘Beloved Community,’” said Dr. John M. Dunaway, the symposium founder and director of Mercer Commons. “We want to examine what kind of progress Macon has made in this regard, celebrate the more notable accomplishments in interracial community-building among our churches and thereby rekindle the vision Dr. King had of a new reign of justice and harmony.”

The events of Feb. 17 will be held in Mercer’s University Center, in the Presidents Dining Room. The evening begins with a banquet at 6:30 p.m., followed at 7:30 with a speech by The Rev. Dr. Emmanuel L. McCall Sr., pastor of Fellowship Group Baptist Church in East Point. Dr. McCall has been active in Baptist circles since moving to Georgia from Pennsylvania in the 1960s and was a close friend of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Holmes, the pastor who attempted to bring Mercer’s first black student, Sam Oni, into his church in 1966. Dr. McCall is also the author of When All God’s Children Get Together: A Memoir of Race and Baptists (Mercer University Press, 2007). McCall is also a past moderator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

On Feb. 18, the symposium will move to Centenary Methodist Church on College Street, beginning with a breakfast at 9 a.m., followed by a musical performance by the Divine Praise Team of AGAPE campus ministry at 10 a.m. At 11, The Rev. Dr. Robert D. Lupton will deliver the final address of the symposium. Dr. Lupton has been a leader in urban ministry in Atlanta for decades and is the author of Return Flight: Community Development Through Re-Neighboring Our Cities (FCS, 1997). The symposium will conclude with a lunch at noon.

Dr. Dunaway founded the symposium in 2004 to find a way to help the church demonstrate unity through collaboration across denominational and racial boundaries. The symposium also works to foster follow-up activities between black and white churches, through such activities as: sister-church relationships, pulpit exchanges, partnerships in community development and service and the formation of action groups for specific issues.

For more information, or to register, contact Judy Jones at (478) 301-2078, or All events are free, but registration by Feb. 13 is required.

About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has approximately 7,700 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; three regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit

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