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Bigger crowd turns out for service

June 17, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - In a high-spirited worship service, 32 white and black Christians gathered together Monday night to share the bonds they have in their religious beliefs rather than to focus on their differences.

The second night of a countywide unity service doubled the number of people who attended, but ministers said the low attendance showed they still have a long way to go.

The first night's service attracted 14 people, all white. The audience at Monday's service was about equally divided between white and black worshipers.

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Organizers had hoped the event would draw hundreds of Christians from various denominations and races.

Those at Monday night's service did not seem to let the low attendance affect their spirits.

The service started with members of the Ebenezer Mount Cavalry Church choir leading rousing versions of gospel songs as the audience clapped and sang along.

"We've got the devil on the run and we're going to take back the territory he's stolen," said the Rev. Alice Hunter, co-pastor at Ebenezer Mount Cavalry Church.

More than 15 ministers and their congregations had been invited to the services. About five attended and they said they would work to help bring about a unity in the religious community of the county.

Pastor Jack Meikrantz of the Jefferson County Pastors for Unity in the Body of Christ said the low turnout shows the ministers have a long way to go to reach their goal.

But he said he believed it was worth it.

A similar program about two years ago had filled the auditorium with worshipers and seemed to improve relations between white and black Christians, he said.

But Meikrantz, who is white, said the good feelings did not last.

Meikrantz said he also hoped to bring together Christians of various denominations and non-denominations to help end the divisiveness.

A similar program in Fayetteville, N.C., has seemingly had a wide-ranging impact on the community and has been credited by some to helping lower the crime rate, he said.

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