St. Mark’s to host community forum on Sunday

Published 9:45 am Thursday, September 7, 2023

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St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is inviting everyone to a community forum on unity and positive change with the charge “Let it begin in me. . .”

The church will host a service of peace and justice with a conversation centering on racial trust building, affordable housing, poverty and community policing on Sunday, Sept. 10.

LaGrange Mayor Dr. Willie Edmondson will serve as guest minister for a pair of services that will bookend a forum to discuss community issues with local leaders. Edmondson, who normally pastors Bethlehem Baptist Church in West Point, will preach at both the 8:30 a.m. worship service and 10:30 a.m. festival service.

During the forum at 9:30 a.m., Edmondson will be joined in the parish hall by other civic and community leaders for coffee and bold conversations centering around peace and justice.

Edmondson will be joined by LaGrange Police Chief Garrett Fiveash, Charlton Askew and Anne Gentry of the Troup County Racial Trustbuilding Initiative, Circles of Troup County Executive Director Sherri Brown and the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Coalition.

Church member Joel Carver, who is helping to promote the event, explained a bit about how the forum will work.

The speakers will each have a few minutes to discuss their topics and, time permitting, answer questions from attendees. The questions will be submitted via written comment cards, so if there isn’t time for every question the speakers can respond later via email, Carver said.

Carver said the idea for the forum came from longtime church member Kay Durand.

“Durand, who is a longtime member of St. Mark’s and this community, really felt that it was time in LaGrange for us to begin to take steps forward and deal with all of these particular issues in a really positive way,” Carver said.

“All of these issues matter intensely. We’re just really excited that we’re one of the first ones to begin these conversations,” Carver said.

Durand said Edmondson’s election as the first African-American mayor of LaGrange inspired her to suggest the event.

“I felt like this was a real opportunity to kind of cross that race barrier. We shouldn’t have those barriers within our churches at all,” Durand said. “I wanted to do something to bring the mayor into our church, which is predominantly white, for people to get to know him as a person.”

Durand said St. Mark’s has been having guest pastors for quite some time after being without a minister for 18 months.

“Most of the time, people that come to do our services do a Sunday school lesson in between, so we thought this was a perfect opportunity to bring up some of the barriers in our community regarding social issues and justice,” Durand said.

The community forum, as well as both worship services, are open to the public and all are welcome. Event organizers said that everyone is invited to come exactly as they are.

“I am so honored to facilitate this conversation at St. Mark’s. There is no place more appropriate to begin these conversations than our churches,” Durand said.

Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church is located at 207 N Greenwood St. in LaGrange. For more information on St. Mark’s and their ministries, visit or call (706) 884-8911.