Night of Praise aims to bring community together

With a theme of “Beloved Community,” a Night of Praise is set for 7 pm. May 3 at First United Methodist Church, 415 N. Lee Ave.
The keynote speaker is Marcus Goodloe, teaching pastor at Parkcrest Church in Long Beach, Calif.
First United Methodist Associate Pastor Karin Carlson said Goodloe also will be the speaker for National Day of Prayer May 2 at the MCM Elegante Hotel.
His website says Goodloe “travels around the country mentoring students and educators, business professionals, athletes and entertainers, and faith communities on a range of issues including cultural and interpersonal relationships, leadership, team and synergy, character formation, and faith.”
He wrote “KingMaker: Applying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Leadership Lessons in Working with Athletes and Entertainers” (2015), and is co-author of “Habits: Six Steps To The Art Of Influence” (2017), the site said.
In 2016, Dallas Baptist University established the Marcus Goodie Goodloe Scholarship in his honor, the site said.
Carlson, who also is minister of Mackey Chapel, said Goodloe brings in the social and leadership aspects of how the community and believers can be a beloved community together.
The purpose of the evening is to bring the community and clergy leaders together to continue building bridges for a Beloved Community, with the focus of “unity amidst diversity,” Carlson said in an email.
Plans are to have a panel style discussion with community and clergy leaders, Carlson said. Several choirs/praise teams and children praise dancers from local churches also will take part.
Along with Goodloe, panelists include: Kristie Hunter-Onyenegecha, Daughters of the King Permian Basin women’s ministry; Daniel Smelser, student pastor at Life Challenge Church and Southwest Youth Conference director; Mari Willis, teacher and newly elected Odessa City Council member; and Adrian Vega, chief people Officer for the Sewell Family of Companies and the Executive Director of the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin.
Vega said the focus of the Education Partnership is ensuring that the quality of education in the whole community is raised and supported.
“That cannot happen in isolation. It’s really going to take the entire community,” Vega said.
The faith community is a large part of the community. About a month and a half ago, invitations were sent to churches participating in the One Accord initiative to get every school in Ector County ISD to be adopted by a church.
At minimum, he said, the idea was to pray for campuses. But there are other churches that are involved to a greater degree.
Vega added that this brings the faith community into the broader conversation on how to face challenges such as housing, workforce, education and infrastructure.
“It’s part of a process. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’ll see what comes out of this Friday event, as far as next steps. …,” Vega said.
From his perspective as the Bookworms program expands and the possibility of taking the leadership coaching program at Bonham Middle School to all the other schools, volunteers are going to be needed.
“To me, one of the pools we could draw from are those that are part of our faith community. This would be right in line with an extension of one’s faith — wanting to help another person,” Vega said.
Carlson said Goodloe will give everyone a challenge to be part of a movement for a beloved community.
“A beloved community is where … the church and community come together as one … to bring a movement for a healthy advancement of the city,” Carlson said. “My hope and prayer is to have as many community leaders and clergy leaders here that night with all the other, hopefully, many people,” she said.
She added that Goodloe has been to First UMC before.
Carlson said he is a dynamic teacher who is passionate about people.
“It’s an opportunity for community and clergy to come together for one night and start that building that relationship together,” she said.
Carlson said she would like a diverse group to come together and a message of unity.
She added that unity is sometimes confused with uniformity.
“That’s really not what’s it about. Unity is coming together. It’s not everybody being the same and it’s not about making everybody become uniform into one. It’s keeping your own identity, but how do we come together for this community because there are needs,” Carlson said.
She added that many new people are coming in and teachers need support, prayer and encouragement.
She added that you don’t need to be a member of a church to help with the Bookworms program, organized by the Education Foundation, that includes volunteers reading to students and letting the students take the books home.
“I’m a big believer in education. It’s going to take a community right now with where we’re at right now, a beloved community to come together. It won’t happen overnight, but we’ve got to be intentional with it,” Carlson said.