Pulpit exchange planned

Published 5:42 pm Saturday, August 22, 2015

A group of Suffolk pastors plans a pulpit exchange for late October to continue the community conversation started with a prayer vigil last month in the wake of June’s Charleston church shooting.

“We’re getting churches, black and white, that agree to do a pulpit exchange on that last Sunday (in October),” said the Rev. T. Floyd Irby, who was one of three local pastors that coordinated July’s vigil. It came after the June 17 murder of nine black people, allegedly by a racially motivated white gunman, at the historically black Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C.

Irby, along with the Rev. Darrell Wade and Bishop Carlton R. Upton Sr., coordinated the July prayer vigil.

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“We got so much positive feedback from people on that,” Irby said. “That was not a one-time event. We’re just making plans to follow up on this and move toward getting more conversation and awareness in the different churches about their own needs and issues.”

Irby said pastors will be meeting in early September to coordinate the pulpit exchange, where participating churches will swap pastors, and potentially musicians as well, for the last Sunday in October.

“It will be up to the churches to work out exactly who will be doing the swapping off, whether it’s just preaching or preaching and music,” Irby said.

“We want to do something to connect pastors and churches together on that level, and another larger gathering for the community,” he added, noting that another joint service, potentially in November and carrying a Thanksgiving theme, also is in the works.

The joint worship service is important, because it allows individuals to connect, Irby said.

“We want to find a way to get individual congregations and people to network and connect with each other,” Irby said.

The coordinators have invited all clergy for which they have been able to obtain email or mailing addresses, Irby said. However, any clergy who have not yet received an invitation can call Upton at 539-3533 for more details.