Altar Call - 0pelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
November 12, 2000

A wonderful opportunity to improve relationships in our community

Opelika is a wonderful place to live in spite of the frequent disputes that arise and sometimes make headlines. Arguments are a normal part of life on this planet because people have different values and priorities.

Though our differences can often divide us, the fabric of our society is held together by our many common goals. All of us desire the respect of others and we cherish the freedom to live and let live. All of us want the best for our children. We want to live in a community where our leaders work together to improve the quality of life for all our citizens. We want our town to be known as a good place to live so that it is attractive to newcomers.

While disputes make headlines in newspapers, gradual improvements in race relations are little noticed. But in recent years the relationships between blacks and whites in Opelika have steadily improved. We have but to look at our schools, our businesses, and our churches to see evidence of people willing to work together across racial lines.

Our Chamber of Commerce, under the able leadership of Sherri Sumner, has played a key role in bringing blacks and whites together to work side by side in community events and helpful projects. My own life has been enriched by friendships with black persons that resulted from working on chamber committees together.

As a pastor in the Lee County Interdenominational Ministers Alliance, I have gained the valuable friendship of several black pastors of local and area churches. We have often shared our hearts with one another and this has given us a strong bond as brothers, a bond which I deeply cherish.

Like most persons my age, I have my own preferences in music. But by sharing in worship experiences with my black friends, I have learned to appreciate different styles of music. This has broadened my understanding and appreciation for other ways of offering praise to God.

Every year I look forward to November when many people from area churches come together to praise God in our Community Thanksgiving Service. This is a beautiful opportunity for blacks and whites to strengthen our ties of friendship as we worship together.

Again this year Mayor Barbara Patton will be present to offer a Proclamation of Thanksgiving on behalf of us all. To recognize them for their dedicated leadership, the members of the Opelika City Council also are invited to stand with Mayor Patton that Sunday evening, November 19. This will give our community the chance to honor them and to thank God for their leadership.

I am so pleased that our church, Trinity United Methodist, has the honor this year of hosting this gathering in our sanctuary. The worship time is 6:30 p.m. Two of the best choirs in our city will offer special music. They are the adult choir of Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church and the adult choir of Powerhouse of Praise Church of Deliverance.

Bishop Larry Torbert of Powerhouse of Praise Church will preach that night. Larry is a dear friend, an effective pastor, and serves as president of the Ministers Alliance. Several other pastors will participate in the service, and our own Trinity Choir will sing. Refreshments will be served in a fellowship time following the service.

This community service offers our entire community the opportunity not only to offer thanksgiving to God, but to strengthen the bond of friendship across racial lines. To do that will make Opelika an even better place to live and raise children.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a front-page story in our newspaper the next day -- observing people meeting together as friends and neighbors!