02/01/05 — Reaching out to others can strengthen community, speaker says

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Reaching out to others can strengthen community, speaker says

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 1, 2005 2:00 PM

The Rev. Jim C. Whitfield challenged local leaders and others this morning to reach out to others as a path to a stronger community.

Whitfield, pastor of First Pentecostal Holiness Church, spoke at the annual prayer breakfast to mark the beginning of "Human Relations Month." About 70 people attended the service at Whitfield's church.

Whitfield started by asking the audience to consider the words "crowd" and "community."

A crowd is simply a large number of people gathered together, Whitfield said. "It can be useless -- an audience of strangers."

What makes a community distinct is that it shares common interests, he continued. "A community is something we belong to and share with others."

Community members "have connections, interconnections and interdependence that goes on in healthy human relations," he said.

He cited Psalms 68:6, which begins, "God setteth the solitary in families." That shows there's a "divine design" to how individuals form groups, Whitfield said.

He related a story of five men who were trapped outdoors overnight, each holding a piece of wood but none willing to throw it into a fire for all. When the night ended, they had all frozen.

"They died, not because of the cold outside but the cold inside," Whitfield said.

He urged the audience to examine their own behaviors and, if lacking, to reach out and make stronger connections."

The annual prayer breakfast is sponsored by the city of Goldsboro, Wayne County, and the Community Affairs Commission. Feb. 1 is the first day of "Human Relations Month."

The occasion is "a reminder that we should be kind, gentle and treat everyone with respect," Mayor Al King said.

Dr. Kenneth Barnes, chairman of the Community Affairs Commission, emceed the event. Col. Jim Holmes, commander of the 4th Fighter Wing, and County Commissioner Atlas Price, vice chairman of the county board, were also at the head table.

Councilman the Rev. Charles Williams gave grace and the benediction.