By John Fulton
The Vicksburg Ministerial Alliance (VMA) is currently comprised of seven churches in the greater Vicksburg Area. Pastor Ed Courtney stated, “The VMA is about building bridges and putting platforms down in the spirit of cooperation, reaching out to encourage and help each other and our churches.”
The current member churches are Chapman Memorial Nazarene Church, Grace Community Church, St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Vicksburg United Methodist Church, Country Christian Evangelical Free Church, Lakeland Reformed Church and Vicksburg Bible Church.
The pastors meet monthly and discuss issues that have come to them and plan the various activities that they co-sponsor throughout the year. Pastor Dave Downs of Chapman Memorial Nazarene Church is the leader of the collective group this year.
Downs said, “Membership is open to local churches and we would like participation to grow. We discuss big plans in our churches, so we know what each other are doing.” Downs stated, “The point of the group is to be a benefit to the community. That is the focus. How can we help the South County Community? The VMA also offers an opportunity to build each other up, bounce ideas around and be a support group.”
The group does occasionally engage each other in theological issues. “Though there are ecumenical differences we all respect each other and nobody is pushy. We gather in the spirit of cooperation and are genuinely friends with each other,” Downs noted.
Some of the events that the VMA collaborates on include a Good Friday service, Lenten luncheons, Community Thanksgiving service, and Baccalaureate service for high school graduates. “The Baccalaureate service is planned by the students and is intended to encourage them to keep Christ first and foremost in their lives,” Courtney said.
“A love offering is collected during the Community Thanksgiving service. These donations are used to fund the activities of the VMA, assist the community through South County Community Services, pay a utility bill for a needy community member and support Generous Hands,” according to Downs.