By NEDDIE WINTERS
‘Breaking down barriers and building bridges through living reconciled’
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Mission Mississippi and its ongoing work of breaking down barriers and building bridges through living reconciled. I am excited about celebrating God’s work through Mission Mississippi in healing the racial divide. Sadly, the challenges of racism, racial strife, racial hatred, racial prejudice, and racial division still exist. Thus, the work continues. However, I enter 2023 with great confidence, excitement, and anticipation that God will complete the work He started 30 years ago through Mission Mississippi!
2023 is a transitional year for Mission Mississippi, both in terms of leadership change and celebrating 30 years of dedicated service. The number 30 connotes dedication, and I have been part of Mission Mississippi since its inception in 1993, with 30 years of continued service. I’ve served as a board member, a staff member, executive director, and president. I have experienced and witnessed the transforming power of living reconciled in my life, in the life of my family, and in the lives of so many others in this state and nation, as well as internationally. I am pressing on and looking forward to my participation and continued service with Mission Mississippi, however in a different capacity.
On behalf of the board of directors, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Pastor Brian Crawford of City Light Church, Vicksburg, will be the next president of Mission Mississippi beginning April 1. Brian planted and leads an intentionally multiethnic and multicultural church that fully embodies Mission Mississippi’s passion for living reconciled. He has served with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for over 20 years in management and supervision. Brian’s leadership as a pastor and businessman will bring new energy to this important work of living reconciled. The board conducted a thorough search to find this young man and has committed to mentoring, training and equipping him over the next 90 days via the board, myself, staff, and other leaders. We look forward to introducing him and his vision for Mission Mississippi throughout the state during this time.
Mission Mississippi started as a metro Jackson movement, with racial reconciliation in the body of Christ as the key focus. One of our first taglines was “Changing Mississippi One Relationship at a Time.” Mission Mississippi is now a statewide movement with a network of local groups throughout the state. We are recognized nationally as a leading resource and catalyst for Christian reconciliation and racial healing. We have been able to accomplish this through relationships built on trust, respect, and truth. This is achieved by connecting people, cultivating relationships, and changing lives through listening, learning, and living out the reconciliation we have in Christ. Our network includes churches, organizations, ministries, businesses, schools, colleges, and universities where we get to enlist, engage, equip, and empower communities to live a lifestyle of reconciliation.
Mission Mississippi has paved the way for churches, organizations, ministries, and communities to do reconciliation work. As one board member stated, “Mission Mississippi has prepared new ground and cleared the way by removing the stumps, stones and stumbling blocks.” In other words, breaking down barriers and building bridges through living reconciled.
You know, reconciliation and living reconciled is not always tangible. The work we do is the “HEART” work, and that work is not always exemplified in tangible ways. However, the invisible makes the visible possible. It’s the heart change that’s allowed people to make positive changes in their personal, professional and everyday lives.
We have succeeded in getting people to the table who would otherwise not be sitting at the table, developing relationships where there was once hate and adversity. Now people are together working and helping transform communities to make life better for the whole. We are witnessing the intentionality of multiracial, multicultural churches, churches staying in the inner city, and people staying at the table even when it’s difficult. Pastors and churches are working together across racial and denominational lines to better their communities.
In recent years we have challenged the body of Christ to deepen their relationships with God and with one another. This past year we aimed to dig deeper into the racial divide and its manifestation in our relationships. To do this, we started with right relationships — with God, with ourselves, and with others.
Now we are challenging ourselves and others to break down barriers and build bridges.
#BeABreaker&Builder • Ephesians 2:14-22
Neddie Winters is president of Mission Mississippi, an organization dedicated to racial reconciliation within the body of Christ. A proud alumnus of Alcorn State University, Neddie lives in Clinton with his wife, Tommie.