LAURINBURG — In the wake of the recent controversies surrounding police and protesters, Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church thinks having its annual Community Day in a more visible place is a great idea.
Union Grove Pastor George T. Ellis said Saturday’s church program held on North Main Street will include members of the Laurinburg Police Department.
Ellis hopes the event will allow the community to get a different view of those in the church and in law enforcement.
Postponed from May because of the weather, Community Day will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ellis said the new date provides the perfect opportunity to talk about what is going on around the country and to build a better relationships.
“When we come together it gives us a chance to see each other other than what we see in the church,” said Ellis. “It will give the community a chance to see the police department in another light other than patrol.”
Police Chief Darwin “Duke” Williams said the department has partnered with the church in the past and is looking forward to the event on Saturday.
“We will be actively involved,” he said about Saturday’s event. He and Ellis said in past partnerships, they have gone out into the community.
Williams said his officers have worked for years to build trust with the community. Police experts say that improved relations can be attributed largely to common-sense approaches that build on the philosophy touted by Williams as community policing.
“We’re trying to partner with citizens,” he said. “We have to be involved through speaking engagements, coaching or mentoring. It’s a partnership. Our job is be security and secure lives and property. We are trying to be out there.”
The Laurinburg Police Department holds events in different communities quarterly. October will be the next one.
This year’s Community Day will be held in the open field beside Bright Hopewell Baptist Church. This location was chosen because it is visible and Ellis hopes people will stop by to see what is going on. He would like to have at least 200 people take part.
“We are taking the gospel to the community,” he said. “We are taking the church service out of the church building, ministering to the whole person,” he said. “We have to get outside the walls of the church and reach people. It’s time to take it to the next level.”
Ellis said his congregation joined the police officers in March and played basketball in the McIntosh community. Williams said there will be another event in October.
“Now is the perfect time to bring some healing to some hurts. All are impacted by what’s going on. The wound is still open. We have to put our hearts and minds together. Love has to be the root. Our parishioners are looking up to us. We just can’t talk about it, we gotta do something,” said Ellis.
He said he is hurt by the recent shootings.
“I am bleeding, my heart is grieved on every level about what is going on in the community now and the loss of life that has occurred. There has to be some middle ground with clergy, policemen and the people. That’s where the church comes in. Gospel can change the heart. We are extending our hands and hearts.”
He wants people to know the church loves the community, the citizens and the police department.
“All lives are important. We want to let them know somebody cares, we got to do more.”
Besides location there will be other things added on to this year’s event. There will be a health clinic for the first time from 9 -11 a.m. Blood pressure checks as well as other screenings involving blood work will be done on site. Scotland County Health Department staff will do the health screenings.
Ellis explained the health fair will be held prior to the start of the actual event because the PSA screenings require fasting from food and drink after midnight to get an accurate reading.
There will also a balloon artist, corn hole tournaments and other games. There will be free food. Local funeral homes will have tents set up to talk about getting final affairs in order. Golden Corral will also be there.
Firemen will share safety tips including child safety seats. The event will open with a mini gospel message as well as singing.
Reach Maria D. Grandy at 910-506-3171.