Photo and story by Sabrina Tyson / Contributing Writer
Experience Community Church held a forum on racial issues Thursday as part of their monthly Evident series, which is mainly geared toward college students. The forum’s speakers included Believers Faith Fellowship Church Pastor Jason Scales; First Baptist Church Murfreesboro Pastor James McCarroll; Tonya Godsey-Gilmore, a Hispanic immigrant and member of the worship team at Experience Community Church; Mohammed Shaban, a former Muslim Imam and an elder at Experience Community Church; and Experience Community Church Pastor Corey Trimble.
“We thought it would be very important to bring people representing every part of our community and just let people ask honest questions,” Trimble said.
Talking points of the discussion were based on topics such as pressures for people of different minorities, prejudice within minority groups and equal opportunities for minorities. An estimated 150 to 200 people showed up to the event, according to Trimble.
“If we are really going to be the body of Christ, we have to have hard conversations in those areas where we may be hesitant to really, truly follow Christ, and I think this is one in this country that definitely needs to take place,” McCarroll said. “So, it’s imperative and extremely necessary for the kingdom purposes and the individual congregation purposes.”
Godsey-Gilmore said that conversations like this mean a lot to the members of the church congregation who belong to minority groups.
“It think what this does for people like me who are in minority groups is that it helps us feel seen, especially in a 3,000-member church,” Godsey-Gilmore said. “It’s also a beautiful thing to see a church community champion an issue like this that affects the culture at large. Change happens in relationships, and it happens in small doses.”
Trimble said that the recent “White Lives Matter” rally that took place in Shelbyville and the planned rally in Murfreesboro, which was eventually canceled, encouraged church members to hold the forum.
“Of course all the events that happened in the last month or so that were supposed to happen on our square really shoved us into doing something like this, but we’ve done things like this a lot in the past,” Trimble said.
Trimble worked with the Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland and other faith leaders, including McCarroll, on a video that condemned the actions of the “White Lives Matter” organizers. The video, titled “We Are Murfreesboro,” was a statement made to represent the community of Murfreesboro and to prevent the rallies from becoming representative of the area. The video was released a week before the rally was to be held in Murfreesboro.
The church has been doing evident meetings for about two years now, and the last meeting was on immigration.
“We’re trying to make this a safe place for everyone to come in and learn how to approach things from a ‘Jesus Christ standpoint,’” said Madison Heath, 21, who works as a Sunday school teacher at Experience Community Church.
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