A ‘Generation Next’ mindset


Mission Mississippi has been active for 25 years now – and they want to make sure that number keeps going up.


Von Gordon

That’s why the organization has adopted a “Generation Next” mindset, said Executive Director Neddie Winters.


“Mission Mississippi is to be very intentional and intense about this. We don’t do any programming without (young people) in mind.”


A Generation Next team meets regularly to discuss how to achieve this, and oftentimes guest speakers conduct workshops.


One of those speakers was a tag-team duo, Von Gordon and Jeff Byrd, who met through work at Brown Bottling Group and formed their own interracial friendship.


Jeff said a lot of people get scared to talk about race with someone who doesn’t look like them.


Jeff Byrd

“But that’s where value comes in. Von and I value each other,” Jeff said. “I might say something (bad), but at the end of the day he’ll say, ‘Hey man, that’s not a good thing to say,’ (or vice versa) – and it could’ve been (just a misunderstanding) – instead of just kind of brushing it under the rug.”


Jeff is now the student pastor at First Baptist Fannin in Brandon, and Von leads the youth engagement work at the William Winter Institute in Jackson. Both are invested in seeing “Generation Next” continue bridging gaps between races.


“You don’t have to look any further than the Nike stuff on social media to see where the chasms are,” Von said. “There really don’t seem to be many local spaces where those conversations are sparked in a healthy way. I think for young people, that is one of those conversations we need to have.”