By Rev. Ever J. Burt
It was a hot summer morning. I was on my patio watching the red birds before going to the office when I received a call from Dr. Curressia Brown. She was the coordinator with a documentary team working in Greenwood. She informed me that the team, comedian Bill Cosby's associates, wanted to see an inside view of Wesley United Methodist Church, and possibly make it part of the documentary.
Greenwood District Superintendent the Rev. Victoria L. White, gave approval and we agreed to allow the church to be a part of the documentary because of its history. It is being listed on the National Historical Registry.
When we were informed that Cosby was definitely coming to Wesley UMC, we told the good news to Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, and she gave us her support.
Wesley UMC was active during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. It is a unique church with 90 percent of the adult congregation holding college degrees. Wesley believes in education and has this in common with Cosby, who holds a doctor of philosophy in education. Our entire congregation was elated about Cosby choosing Wesley as the host church.
Months and weeks of preparation were made for Cosby's arrival in Greenwood. Huge blimp-shaped balloons with lights inside were installed in the high antebellum style ceiling of the church to intensify the lighting which enhanced the beauty of the antique sanctuary as well as the balcony and overflow room. The Cosby work teams were very caring and respectful for the church's property and contents. They asked permission before moving any furniture. Their behavior was beyond reproach.
Cosby came to Greenwood on Nov. 20. He came to lead a walk through various streets and to do a motivational speech at Wesley UMC. His message of responsibility, accountability and education are needed to build communities as well as families in Greenwood and other Delta cities.
I agree and concur with Brown when she said, "Without strong families, we cannot build strong communities. A few basic principles espoused by Dr. Cosby can make that happen in the Delta, where poverty and a preponderance of single parent homes work against the family."
Attendance was excellent.
Troy Brown, spouse of Dr. Brown, developed a relationship with Cosby while attending Rust College in Holly Springs. About six months ago, some of Cosby's associates who are making a documentary contacted the Browns with an interest in Greenwood. The couple invited Cosby back to Greenwood.
As a pastor, I truly believe the right path is straight, narrow and uphill.
Cosby is one who has known much climbing uphill. He has climbed to the top in spite of many setbacks and tribulations in his life. He came to Wesley at our invitation to tell us how faith, responsibility, accountability, a dream-list-vision, education and strong families produce strong communities.
Burt is pastor of Wesley UMC in Greenwood.