Professor to lecture on Born of Conviction


Dr. Joseph T. Reiff, associate professor of religion, Emory & Henry College, will present “Born of Conviction: White Methodist Ministers Speaking to Mississippi’s Closed Society” at Millsaps College.

The free lecture is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in Room 215 of the Ford Academic Complex.

Reiff, a Millsaps alumnus, will tell the story of a 1963 public statement in support of civil rights published in The Mississippi United Methodist Advocate from 28 ministers of the Mississippi Conference of The United Methodist Church and of the overwhelmingly negative reaction to it from white Mississippians.

Reiff, who has been working on this project for three years, is writing a book with a projected publication date of 2008 or 2009. He has interviewed all but two of the 20 surviving signers of the “Born of Conviction” statement published in the Advocate on Jan. 2, 1963. 

“The statement looks mild today,” Reiff said, “but at the time it caused quite a bit of controversy.”

Reiff’s lecture will focus on the context in which the statement was published (three months after the Ole Miss unrest), the statement itself (what it said and why) and the statement as “event” (the range of response to it, what happened to the signers, etc.).  He will also discuss larger issues of church leadership, the church’s struggle with race relations and the church’s relationship to the surrounding culture.

“It is the story of how some white Mississippi Methodist ministers (mostly young — half of them under 30, two-thirds under 36) tried to speak out in a time of social upheaval when courageous and sensible leadership was needed, and of the consequences they suffered as a result,” Reiff said.

For more information on this and other Millsaps Forums, contact Allison Mays at 601-974-1083 ( or Lynn Raley at 601-974-1423 (


Order of Elders plans annual 2-day retreat at Wood Institute

The Mississippi Conference Order of Elders has scheduled the 2006 Sanctuary for Feb. 27 and 28 at Wood Institute in Mathiston.

This is a retreat for all clergy serving full-time appointments. The event runs from noon Monday through noon Tuesday. Worship as well as time for personal reflection and renewal will be offered.

Cost for the event is $50 which includes room and four meals. To register, contact Sheila Cumbest at the conference office, 601-354-0515 or

  For more information about the Order of Elders, contact George Buell at Ackerman First UMC, 662-285-6254;

Molpus to address MRLC dinner

Dick Molpus, former Mississippi secretary of state, will be the guest speaker and the Philadelphia Coalition will be the guest of honor at the annual banquet of the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference.

Molpus is a Philadelphia native and leader in racial reconciliation efforts in the state. The Philadelphia Coalition was one of the driving forces behind re-opening the investigation of the murders of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia in 1964. The investigation led to the arrest and conviction of Edgar Ray Killen for planning the murders.

The theme for the banquet is “Rebuilding a More Just Mississippi.” Tickets are $20 and reservations are required. For tickets or other information, call MRLC Executive Director Dr. Paul Jones at 601-924-7430 or 601-540-0949.


Sider to speak on social activism

Dr. Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), will present a lecture entitled “How Does Christian Discipleship Make Social Action Different?” at Millsaps College in Jackson.

The free lecture is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Feb. 16 in the Leggett Center and is open to the public.

Sider has focused his career on the relationships among religion, politics and social action. A widely known evangelical speaker and writer, Sider has appeared on six continents and published 27 books and scores of articles. His most recent book is The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. An earlier work, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, was recognized by Christianity Today as being one of the 100 most influential religious books of the 20th century.

This lecture is sponsored by the McNair Fund for Christian Missions. For more information, contact the Rev. Raymond Clothier at 601-974-1470 or

Discover God’s Call offer retreat to discern spiritual gifts, calling

After all Mississippi has been through during the past year, many people might find they need a spiritual lift.

Discover God’s Call has a retreat coming up that just might be what one needs to get away from the world and its stress. The retreat is May 12-14 at Durr Wise Conference Center of Camp Wesley Pines in Gallman.

Discover God’s Call is sponsored by the Foundation for Evangelism of  The United Methodist Church and is lead by laity. The purpose of the retreat is to guide Christians in learning what their spiritual gifts are and helping them to discern how God may be calling them to use these gifts.

The retreat experience begins with a 26-day, pre-retreat study that includes Bible study, tapes to listen to, reading a book (Called to be a Layman) and a spiritual gifts inventory. When participants arrive at the retreat, they are divided into small groups to further explore what their spiritual gifts are and what opportunities are available in their church to use their gifts.

The retreat also has times of spirited praise and worship, prayer time, a noted speaker and opportunities for fellowship. This year’s speaker is the Rev. Cecil Williamson of Starkville, well know Mississippi Conference evangelist.

The retreat begins with lunch on Friday and ends with lunch on Sunday. The cost is $145, and the deadline to register is March 31.

Pastors are encouraged to attend the retreat. In addition pastors may receive 1 and one-half CEU’s for attending the retreat. Scholarships are available.

For more information call Steve Seeley, retreat registrar, at 601-372-7461 or visit and click on Discover God’s Call. Retreat brochures can also be printed off the Web site. 

Gulfport First UMC plans concert

Mazaika is scheduled to present a concert of a variety of European music as part of Gulfport First United Methodist’s Arts Under The Dome concert series.

The concert is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 25 at the church.

Russian accordionist and tenor Igor Outkine and British violinist Sarah Harrison have been performing together since 1997. Mazaika’s concerts and cabaret shows feature a variety of music, from Russian folk to European gypsy, French accordion to Neopolitan song, Argentine tango to operatic arias and classical to jazz and pops.

Tickets  are $10 adults and $7 students at the door. For information, call 228-863-0047 or 863-0392, or e-mail


Group plans women’s conference

Noted speaker and author Sharon Jaynes and the Rev. Cynthia Cross will be the featured guests for the fourth Women of the Vine spiritual renewal conference.

The event is scheduled for Feb. 25 at the Neshoba County Coliseum. Since it’s inception in 2002, the regional group of Christian women brought nationally-known speakers such as Alicia Williamson, Jan Silvious and Priscilla Shirer to Neshoba County. 

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the event. Box lunches are available for $5 for participants buying advanced tickets. Groups of 10 or more that pre-register together will receive a complimentary box lunch for each member of their group.

For more information or ticket purchases call 601-656-2306 or 662-320-2441, email or visit


Staggs speaks to Beverly women

Beverly United Methodist Church in Abbeville recently completed a study of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren with a special celebration. Lou Ann Staggs of the New Albany district staff was guest speaker. Several members  of the Oxford-Lafayette Cluster were a part of “The 41 Day Celebration.”

The Beverly United Methodist Women provided refreshments.

The group at Beverly is now studying Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church. Dories Thompson is the study leader. The Rev. Arthur Herod is pastor at Beverly, while Mary Davidson serves as worship leader.


Brookhaven sets speakers event

Newcomers and experienced lay speakers are invited to attend the Brookhaven District 2006 Leadership School.

The event offers the basic course for those seeking to become lay speakers and offers two new advanced courses.

The event is scheduled for March 10-11 at Camp Wesley Pines in Gallman. While designed for the Brookhaven District, anyone interested is invited to participate.

“Don’t Shoot the Horse” is a new advanced course on stewardship that will be taught by the Rev. Phillip Heidelberg, superintendent of the Brookhaven District, while Mary Ford will lead “Accountable Discipleship.” Ford is the conference director of Lay Speaking Ministries. The Rev. Ron Barham, executive director of Wood Institute, will teach the basic course.

Cost of the event for those staying over night is $75, while commuters pay $55. Make checks payable to Mississippi Conference 2006 Leadership School. Registration should be mailed to Brookhaven District, P.O. Box 629, Brookhaven, MS  39602.

Bonnie Dillon of Columbia is the district director of Lay Speaking Ministries.


Hawkins offers something for all

Hawkins United Methodist Church in Vicksburg has scheduled a special event that literally offers something for all ages.

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 23-25.

Kicking off the event on Feb. 23 will be a concert for youth.  Two time Dove Award-winning artists By The Tree will perform. The Rev. John Hugh Tate of Christ UMC in Jackson will deliver the night’s message. 

Friday night is designed for families. Kids will enjoy the Great Cookie Carnival where they will learn “it’s sweet to follow Jesus,” with a special message by Amy Jackson of Crawford St. UMC in Vicksburg. Parents can enjoy some time for their own spiritual renewal with a service led by the Rev. Kelly Pope from First UMC in Brandon.

Southern gospel trio Paid In Full will end the weekend with a concert on Saturday night. The night’s message will be given by the Rev. Richard Robbins from Parkway Hills UMC in Madison. 

No attendance fee will be charged, but a love offering will be taken each night. Church groups are encouraged to attend. Contact Hawkins at 601-636-2242, for reserved seating.  

Ex-president speaks at Rust event

Rust College’s 139th mid-year convocation was held on Jan. 10 with Bishop Alfred Norris as the speaker. Rust President Dr. David L. Beckley presided over the convocation which honored the members of the advisory committee. Three of those members — Dr. David L. Stratmon of Holly Springs, retired chair of the Division of Social Science, and Dr. and Mrs. Ernest A. Smith of Southaven were present. Smith was the ninth president of Rust, and Mrs. Smith was the librarian for the college. Norris is a former bishop of the Houston (Texas) Area of The United Methodist Church. Norris’ message centered around justice, mercy and peace.

UMW plans Spiritual Life Retreat

A core planning group from the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries is scheduled to provide leadership for the 2006 Mississippi Conference United Methodist Women’s Spiritual Life Retreat.

Leading the event will be Jeanette Clifton of Columbiana, Ala.; Myra Martin of Pensacola, Fla.; and Mary Mooney of Millington, Tenn.

The event is scheduled for March 10-11 at Camp Lake Stephens near Oxford. The camp is located on Mississippi 334 east of Oxford. From Mississippi 6, take the Mississippi 334 exit. From Mississippi 7, take the Mississippi 6 east exit and then the Mississippi 334 exit.

Cost of the retreat is $40 for accommodations and meals, $20 for commuters who also eat meals at Lake Stephens and $15 for those attending the Saturday session and eating lunch.