Wednesday, August 10, 2011
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."
Posted by Tim Funk at 2:00 PM