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'Unity in the Community': Preaching words of encouragement during uncertain times

With a global pandemic that has resulted in loss of life, sickness and economic hardships for many and a massive movement calling attention to racial injustices in America, Minister Letitia Nolan felt compelled to unite the community.

“It’s something that God placed in my heart to do. With all these things that were going on, all the commotions, all the protests, everything just seemed to be so negative, so this was a time to bring the community together to let them get some words of inspiration to keep them moving forward in a positive way,” Nolan said of the “Unity in the Community” event she organized Saturday at New London’s Parade Plaza.

The event brought together local religious leaders, who took turns delivering mini sermons focused on topics such as change, hope and love, and included performances by Reverend Junior Jones and The Band, and a dance group from Oasis de Restauración, a Christian Pentecostal church in New London.

“How does hope unify?” Minister Jewell Jones of International Family Worship Center, a nondenominational church on Huntington Street, asked those in attendance.

“Hope unifies because it is active. It is an active response to despair. It cancels out the spirit of despair, which separates and is the breeding ground for toxic emotions and behaviors,” Jones said. “... In order for change to happen, you have to have hope.”

In this time of uncertainty, many people’s faith is being put to the test, said Pastor Darnell Hill of Victory Church in New London.

“Some of us don’t like waiting. We want everything instant. We’re like a microwave’s generation, we want everything quick, fast and in a hurry, but sometimes God has to put you through a process,” Hill said. “Everything doesn’t come all at one time.”

Other speakers included Pastor Joel Rivera of Get Wrapped Church in New London, Minister Mary Rose of Shiloh Baptist Church, and Minister Efrain Dominguez of Oasis de Restauración, who is also president of the New London City Council.

The event was a good opportunity to interact with individuals in the community who might not attend one of the churches in the area, said Nolan, a member of the clergy at Shiloh Baptist Church in New London. Her husband, Anthony Nolan, is a New London police officer and state representative.

“We’re trying to make sure that individuals are still being encouraged and having hope in the midst of all that we're going through,” she said.


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