By Rosemarie Dowell
Positive Press News
A group of Leesburg pastors has united in an effort to bring racial unity to the area in the wake of protests and the civil unrest following the death of African American George Floyd May 25 while in police custody.
The Rev. Cliff Lea, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Leesburg, along with the Rev. John Christian of Christian Worship Center, the Rev. Terry Mahan of The Father’s House and Bishop Steve Yates of Frontier Church, will host a virtual, “Night of Oneness, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper,” beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday (June 24).
The clergymen, along with more than a dozen others, both black and white, also recently met to address the nation’s racial divide, ways to combat it, and unify the country.
“Those of us white pastors have spent a lot of time just listening to black pastors during the meetings,” said Mahan, who founded The Father’s House on South Street 24 years ago with his wife, Anita.
“Pastor Dannie from The Citadel of Hope church said we can’t keep kicking the same can down the road,” he said. “We need to do something.”
Yates, founder and senior pastor of Frontier, a multi-cultural, multi-denominational congregation on Westside Drive in Leesburg said area pastors need to show unity to heal the racial rifts in the nation.
“The only way to show unity is if we walk or work together,” said Yates, who has four children with his wife, Chineta – two boys in college and two girls at home. “We need to support and love one another.”
“We are brothers in Jesus, brothers in Christ and there is only one kingdom that we are advancing,” he said. “The church needs to lead from the front, not the back; there’s a bigger issue behind it all and that is hate.”
Mahan, who’s been in the ministry for more than 50 years, said current events has been one of the most challenging times he’s ever experienced as a pastor.
“We started with COVID and that divided us because we couldn’t get together; and then we had the death of Floyd”, said Mahan, 70. and the father of two adult children. The church is also multi-cultural and non-denominational.
“As a church one of the first things we did was to call attention to and be the voice for bringing justice to the marginalized in this country,” he said.
Earlier this month, Yates and Mahan hosted several Facebook Live events aimed at uniting the community and addressing issues and misunderstandings between members of the clergy and different races. The meetings led to the Wednesday Night of Oneness service.
“We both recognized during the protests that there was a lot of division among the clergy and misunderstanding due to not knowing one another,” said Yates. “Mahan and I knew each other (Yates was on the staff at the Father’s House before founding Frontier) and we knew we had to do something about it.”
While both ministers decry the rioting, looting, and destruction going on across the country, they fully support peaceful protests and gathering intended to bring about much-needed change.
“I teach my sons about the beauty of the right to protest in this democracy,” said Yates. “Protesting is not the same thing as rioting; rioters are violent people.”
Mahan said the real enemy is Satan, not a different political party or skin color.
“We only have one enemy and that is Satan; he comes to divide us all,” he said.
To participate in the virtual Night of Oneness, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper, hosted by First Baptist, 220 N. 13th St., at 6 p.m. Wednesday go to https://live.firstleesburg.tv/ and https://www.facebook.com/FirstLeesburg/live_videos/