Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Women from black, white churches to discuss 'The Help'

Nearly 300 women from some of Charlotte's most prominent black and white churches will gather together at a movie theater Saturday morning to watch "The Help."

Then the women will reunite at Forest Hill Church to discuss the new movie -- based on a popular novel that explores relationships between black maids and their white employers in the segregated South of the early 1960s.

Most of the women who signed up for the sold-out screening come from three megachurches: Forest Hill, Friendship Missionary Baptist and The Park. Forest Hill is a predominantly white church in SouthPark; Friendship and The Park, both on Beatties Ford Road, are predominantly African American.

Interest at the churches was so great that organizers had to reserve not one, but two, theaters at Regal Cinemas Stonecrest at Piper Glen.

Who came up with this bridge-building opportunity?

A few W.I.L.D. Women -- i.e., leaders of the local Women's Institute of Leadership Development.

These leaders -- from The Park, Friendship and Forest Hill -- have been meeting since March and have agreed to travel to the African nation of Burundi next year to work to empower women there.

But then the leaders thought: What about women right here in Charlotte?

"We are doing great work overseas, helping people we don't know, building community among them," said the Rev. Cassandra Jones, who's minister of member outreach at Friendship. "But we fall woefully short in doing that here. So (we thought) 'what can a group of women do to bridge the gap in Charlotte?'"

Among their answers: Worshiping at another church where most of the people don't look like you. And seeing a provocative movie together and then discussing the issues it raises.

"We are trying to find natural ways for our congregations to spend time together," said Lisa Allen, who's on the outreach team at Forest Hill.

Allen added that those attending Saturday will be told: "Don't sit by somebody who looks like you. And jot down names and emails so you can stay connected."

Jones, whose grandmother and great aunts were maids in segregated Louisiana, said the hope, too, is that other groups in town will see what these W.I.L.D. women are doing and then initiate their own project.

Added the Rev. Nicole Martin. minister of young adults and singles at The Park: "We are working toward racial reconciliation among women in Charlotte."

Early reviews of "The Help," which is now in theaters, have been positive. In his review, Dave Germain of the Associated Press, said: "Provocative without turning preachy, tender without tumbling into sentimentality, 'The Help' is enormously enjoyable."


Anonymous said...

"Nearly 300 women from some of Charlotte's most prominent black and white churches"...... One of America's most segregated institutions - - - CHURCH.

Anonymous said...

The women and some men of Woodland Presbyterian Church and Paw Creek Presbyterian Church read the book and got together to discuss it a year ago. What a wonderful time we had talking and telling stories! Woodland was formed in part when former slaves (who were members at Paw Creek) started their own church after the Civil War. Many of Woodland's ancestors are buried in Paw Creek's cemetery. We have also celebrated Pentecost Sunday together for the past 3 years.

Anonymous said...

@anon 3:43--one could argue that's due in part to many people attending church in an area close to where they LIVE.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has studied church growth for 20 years, church is segregated because of WORSHIP STYLE not racism. Blacks and whites prefer different style of worship. Period.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit perplexed by the "working toward racial reconciliation among women in Charlotte". Doesn't reconciliation mean ending hostilities or coming back together again? Exactly what do the women of Charlotte need to reconcile?

Anonymous said...

"Blacks and whites prefer different styles of worship. Period" The anonymous poster is so misguided. I encourage all of you to check out Transformation Church ( in Indian Land, SC. It's a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church and among one of the fastest growing churches in America! People of all ethnic, socio-economic backgrounds and all ages, worshiping and serving together. It does work! There's going to be a lot of people very confused when they get to heaven and are worshiping together. There's not going to be any segregation in heaven. Wake up people.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article!! I am looking forward to the screening & discussion at Forest Hill Church. For those who don't think clarity & reconciliation are not needed, I strongly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone & spend time with people from another ethnicity. It will be an eye opener for sure.

Anonymous said...

Actually I have quite a few friends of different ethnicities although we don't dwell on that. I understand that people can have differing views of life and/or differing lifestyles but that doesn't mean they need "reconciliation". They simply need to get to know each other, which I imagine is what is actually going on within these church groups. To use the dramatic term "reconciliation" is pretentious and just plain silly, in my opinion. Growing friendships, on the other hand, is authentic.