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Breaking Down Barriers ‘a catalyst for racial reconciliation’

Dr. W. Charles Lewis speaks Wednesday about breaking down racial barriers in the community. Lewis, senior pastor of Dothan community Church, was the keynote speaker at Macedonia Missionary Baptist church’s event. [PATTI BLAKE/THE NEWS HERALD]

“We have to stop looking and seeing in black and white,” Pastor W. Charles Lewis said. “We have to see in color.”

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Whites, blacks, Christians, Muslims and others gathered at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Wednesday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and to mark the 50th anniversary of his slaying. The attendees shared different backgrounds but the same dream as King: racial reconciliation.

They all had come together for “Breaking Down Barriers in Bay County,” a service put in place to encourage just that kind of togetherness.

“Those of us here today can be a part of that catalyst for racial reconciliation,” Jesse Nelson, Macedonia senior pastor, said to the audience. Nelson, one of the main organizers, said Breaking Down Barriers was just the start of many more racial integration ceremonies to come.

On Wednesday, Nelson brought in W. Charles Lewis, senior pastor of Dothan Community Church in Alabama. Lewis long has been active in solidifying the bond between all races and backgrounds.

“God sees color,” Lewis said. “He wants us to see the black man. He wants us to see the white man. He wants us to see the yellow person. Perhaps there’s someone you didn’t like; maybe you can turn things around. I encourage you to do that racially and cross-culturally.”

Lewis also used scriptures and messages from the Book of John to convey the message of a peaceful bond. He said to achieve racial harmony, people have to go against the status quo.

“We must do what the status quo does not do,” he said. “We have to see what the status quo doesn’t see. In order to do that, we have to stop looking and seeing in black and white. We have to see in color. We must learn to do some things our parents wouldn’t do, and couldn’t do. We can’t hate because our parents hate.”

Bryan Taylor was among the attendees invited to the gathering by friends or colleagues.

“It’s a historical day,” he said. “I hope it will strengthen existing relationships and build some that will benefit our community.”

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