Why Mission Mississippi Matters


For the last Mission Mississippi Moments column of 2019, Mission Mississippi asked 12 people to talk about what the organization means to them. Here is what they said.








Pastor Dexter Jones
Senior Pastor, Triumphant Missionary Baptist Church, Vicksburg

Mission Mississippi has been a great influence on how I relate to my constituents of another race. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to converse about issues pertaining to race, religion and rights. These settings have been garnered through our Day of Dialogue, Community Picnic, Mission Mississippi Prayer Luncheons, and Community Wide Worship Services. It has allowed the people of my congregation and family to reach across the lines of segregation. As a result, we are better off as a people.








Pastor Cody Little
Student Pastor, Jackson First

My Mission Mississippi Moment happened during an event where the youth of our state came and had honest conversations about racial differences and how reconciliation can occur. As a youth pastor, I was encouraged hearing the mature words of these teenagers. I also left with a greater desire to have these types of healing conversations in the church.








Candie Simmons
Senior Vice President, Geography Marketing Strategist,
Regions Bank, Jackson

Mission Mississippi is a wonderful organization that has impacted my life. It has provided me with an open setting for discussing race relations. I honestly believe Mississippi’s overall success is dependent on improving the relationship between the races. Being a participant in this organization has given me the opportunity to help develop a narrative to foster that success.








Annelise Self
Madison-Ridgeland Academy Class of 2021

Mission Mississippi’s Living Reconciled Celebration has provided me the tools I need to start a conversation about race relations, a subject that is often “pushed under the rug” or discussed with a hateful or unaccepting tone. We are all so much more alike than we are different, but we must be intentional in talking about our differences.








Damon Wright
Student Government Association Vice President,
Mississippi College Class of 2021

I first met Neddie Winters at a lunch with Mississippi College President Dr. Blake Thompson. I, along with other MC students, had a quality meal and discussed our perspectives on race and how it pertains to the college and to Christ. Dr. Winters shared his vision and helped us understand how to spread the gospel in a new and effective way.








Van Hardin
Missions Pastor, Fondren Church, Jackson

Through Mission Mississippi, I was blessed to have a monthly lunch with three black pastors. We gave each other the proximity and permission to speak into each other’s lives. These men affirmed and informed me in ways I had not experienced before. They helped me deal with issues of race and prejudice in my ministry that I was previously unequipped to deal with.








Alice Thigpen
Senior Loan Closing Specialist,
Hope Enterprise Corporation, Jackson

During a Mission Mississippi small group discussion where I served as a facilitator, it was refreshing to observe professionals — young, old, black, white — discussing differences and racism without offense. It was evident to me that there were actually people who want to see a change and are seeking to take action. If we had more of these relationships, it would spread and bleed over into a new outlook on how we can impact lives and dissipate biases among different racial groups.








Phil Schank
President, C2k Ministries Inc, Mound Bayou

Learning and listening to one another is critical. At the Mission Mississippi Annual Conference, we had the chance to develop deeper relationships with others who believe in reconciliation. There is power in cross-cultural relationships, and Mission Mississippi helps us move beyond the surface, go deeper and discover all that God has for us.








Lacius Caddle
Compliance Assistant,
Weston Associates, Inc.; Ridgeland

Over the past four years, I have been a volunteer at Mission Mississippi. My most memorable experience has been morning devotion. Each morning, the staff members come together and pray for one another. The staff is an embodiment of the vision of Mission Mississippi, and being part of such a great organization has been life-changing.








Stephanie Kitchens
Realtor, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
Gateway Real Estate, Madison

Through Mission Mississippi, I have learned the value of perspective. We each have our own set of lenses based on our life experiences. It is so important to listen to, empathize with, acknowledge and lament experiences of racism, to be a learner rather than a knower, and to strive to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Mission Mississippi has demonstrated how to live in reconciliation with one another and has equipped me to do the same.








Jason ‘Smiley’ Abrams
Area Ministry Director,
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Mission Mississippi has opened up the doors for me to develop lifelong relationships across denominational and ethnic lines. I have personally found vision and hope for a future unified Mississippi. The tools I’ve learned from participating in dialogues have equipped me to be a bridge-builder as I plant diverse witnessing communities on college campuses through InterVarsity.








Caitlin F. Hayden
Senior Community Relations and Special Events Coordinator,
Baptist Memorial Health Care, Jackson

I’ve been privileged to partner with Mission Mississippi for several years. Their mission to bring racially diverse people together for a better Mississippi is one I respect and am proud to share. One of my favorite moments has been serving on the Living Reconciled Celebration leadership team. Race, gender and age didn’t matter — team members all shared the goal of bringing our community together to celebrate our differences in a loving, respectful, Christ-like way