Beloved Symposium Focuses on Hurricane Katrina


MACON — The Mercer University's Ninth Annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium, to be held Feb. 28 and March 1 is based on the theme, “Hurricane Katrina and Today's Beloved Community.” The Rev. Gail E. Bowman, chaplain and director of the Willis D. Weatherford Jr. Christian Center at Berea College, will deliver the keynote addresses. The event will also include a screening of “The Man Who Ate New Orleans,” and a question-and-answer session with the filmmaker, Michael J. Dunaway, on March 1.

The symposium begins in Penfield Hall on Mercer's Macon campus at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, with the first of two keynote addresses by The Rev. Bowman, titled “Maybe You Believe: Religion, Religion Irritation, Living with Wrong Thinkers and Doers, and the Stone of Hope.” On Friday, the symposium will move to Centenary United Methodist Church on College Street, beginning with the pastors' breakfast at 8:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Michael J. Dunaway, who is also film editor for Paste Magazine, will address the attendees. That event will be followed at 10 a.m. by a worship service, featuring The Rev. Bowman's second address, titled “Planning, Trying and Making Home,” held in Centenary's sanctuary. At 11 a.m., participants will break into small groups in the Fellowship Hall to discuss issues raised in the keynotes. At noon, there will be a luncheon with responses and wrap-up led by The Rev. Cameron Pennybacker, CEO of Diversity Assets. 

On Friday night, the event concludes in the Medical School Auditorium with a screening of “The Man Who Ate New Orleans,” followed by a question-and-answer session with the director Michael Dunaway on March 1.

Admission to all sessions is free, although a $5 donation is requested for the banquet. Reservations are required for meals by Feb. 25. Call or email Trish Dunaway at (478) 475-9506 or to submit a reservation. For more on the symposium, go to

Mercer Commons Director Dr. John M. Dunaway, professor of French and interdisciplinary studies, founded the symposium in 2005 to find a way to help the church demonstrate unity through collaboration across denominational and racial boundaries based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s concept of the “beloved community.” 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.