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Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007 10:18 am

Accentuate the positive

Ministers outline events to mark 1908 race riot

Untitled Document Springfield spiritual leaders said Tuesday that they plan to focus on progress as the city prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the notorious August 1908 race riot. Two organizations, the Ministerial Alliance and Praying for Revival All Year, are calling 2008 “The Year of Reconciliation” and will host a series of eight solemn assemblies in downtown churches from January to August. During each meeting, participants will march to one of eight historic markers, such as the site of the old county jail and the William Donnegan home, and offer prayers of forgiveness and renewal. The Rev. Dr. Wesley McNeese, president of the alliance, says that groups all over the city will commemorate the race riots in their own ways, but spiritual leaders will fill a special niche by asking community members to pray for solutions to race issues that still plague Springfield.
“We believe there will be enough emphasis on the negative,” McNeese said, “so we want to show the positive side and what can be accomplished.”
As part of the initiative, the alliance and PRAY have designed a special logo bearing the slogan “All Races Welcome Here!” McNeese says that spiritual leaders feel compelled to encourage government and civic groups to adopt their message of acceptance during the 2008 commemoration. The first assembly will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 5, at Central Baptist Church (501 S. Fourth St.). McNeese says that community members of all faiths are welcome to attend.  

Contact Amanda Robert at arobert@illinoistimes.com .
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