Few show up for unity service

June 16, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A service planned to unite Christians from across Jefferson County, whether they were black, white, Baptist or Methodist, drew only 14 people Sunday evening.

A second night of services is still scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. at Wright Denny Elementary School in Charles Town.

Pastor Jack Meikrantz of the Jefferson County Pastors for Unity in the Body of Christ called the turnout "embarrassing," but said he still plans at working on uniting Christians.


The religious community has a long way to go, Meikrantz said.

Meikrantz had hoped for hundreds to pack the auditorium at Wright Denny Elementary on Sunday night.

"It's a struggle and there will be more embarrassing moments like tonight that the devil will use against us," Meikrantz said.

Meikrantz and other ministers had said they had hoped for the services to help bring together black and white congregations from all denominations and from non-denominational churches.

He pointed to Fayetteville, N.C., where a white minister and a black minister have worked together to bring together Christians in the town, leading to other improvements in the community.

"Eleven o'clock on Sunday morning shouldn't be the most discriminatory time of the week," said the Rev. Alice Hunter, who is expected to serve as tonight's speaker.

All of those in attendance on Sunday night were white.

Meikrantz said he had spoken to more than a dozen ministers who had planned to help spread the word to their congregations.

Some called back and left messages that their churches had other events to attend, he said.

The nice weather and Father's Day activities may also have kept people away, but Meikrantz said those are just excuses.

He said the turnout was really a sign of how divided the community is between the races and the different denominations and how far they have to go.

"West Virginia is a religious nightmare," he said before the service.

Still, he told those in the audience he was not discouraged.

They sang hymns together and then he preached as if the audience size did not matter.

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