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Pulpit Switch Advances Racial, Christian Harmony

2014-01-30 08.14.24
Pastor … and Pastor …

Two Oxford ministers who share Monroe County roots will exchange pulpits at a traditional African-American and a white church during Black History Month on Feb. 16
Two former Monroe County residents, now Oxford ministers and Ole Miss graduates, will exchange pulpits next month.
Rev. Chris Diggs, pastor of Burns-United Methodist Church, the oldest African-American Church in Lafayette County, will fill the pulpit at Oxford-University United Methodist Church on Sunday, Feb. 16. On the same Sunday, Rev. Claire Dobbs, associate pastor of Oxford-University United Methodist Church, will assume morning pulpit duties at Burns.
The exchange was initiated by Rev. Diggs, but is a continuation of a the intentional connections between the two churches that has been ongoing.
“Initially, I approached Claire about preaching at my church during Black History month,” Pastor Diggs said. “I wanted her to preach to my congregation based on her personal and professional experiences dealing with this subject. In turn, I agreed to share with OUUMC during the same time,” Rev. Diggs said.
“I thought it would be something different because we both are Monroe County, Miss. natives and graduates of Ole Miss,” he said.
Rev. Dobbs is a former Rebellette with the Ole Miss band and Rev. Diggs was the commencement speaker when he graduated at the Ole Miss Tupelo Branch in 2009.
“I was thrilled to receive the invitation from Chris,” Rev. Dobbs said.
“Since I’ve been appointed to OUUMC (10 years in June), OUUMC and Burns have made efforts to celebrate our connections as United Methodists,” Rev. Dobbs said. “We have partnered in worship, children and youth activities, such as Confirmation, and service projects. When we have been intentional in coming together, our lives have been enriched.
“My hope is that we can be even more intentional about sharing life together as people of faith,” she added. “We do that best when we take time to get to know one another. It’s all about relationships.  A pulpit swap is one step towards making that happen.”
2014-01-30 08.14.07-1
Revs Dobbs is a former Rebelette and Pastor Diggs was Ole Miss commencement speaker.

Rev. Diggs, who has filled the OUUMC pulpit before, will preach at the 9 a.m. Journey service, and at the traditional 10:55 a.m. service. Rev. Dobbs will preach at the 11 a.m. service at Burns.
“Thanks to OUUMC Pastor Warren Black, church administrator, Russ McClellan and Rev. Dobbs, we already have a good relationship between our churches,” Rev. Diggs said. “Furthermore, I think our churches can be a catalyst for reconciliation and race relations. I look forward to strengthening our relationships in every way possible.
“Oxford and Ole Miss form a unique community. The opportunity for Christian growth and leadership is enormous,” he added.
Members of the public are invited to participate in the services at both churches.
For more on Rev. Diggs and his innovative soup ministry at Burns-United Methodist, click here.
HottyToddy.com staff report.

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