Presbyterian CelebrationOctober 23, 2017 (Jackson, Miss.) - Presbyterian denominations from around the state will gather to celebrate a common heritage. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and the 200th anniversary of Mississippi becoming a state. “Mississippi Presbyterians are part of both.” Said Rev. Will Shurley, Westminster Presbyterian Church of Gulfport, Miss.

To commemorate both of these historic anniversaries, the event, “Hope for Years to Come: Mississippi Presbyterians in History and Mission,” was created to highlight the influence Presbyterians have had throughout Mississippi's history as well as look to the future of the church.

"The legacy of Mississippi Presbyterians actually predates statehood," added Rev. Shurley, "In this bicentennial year, we wanted to showcase the lasting impact Presbyterians have had on our states, which includes founding institutions like Belhaven University, French Camp Academy, the Palmer Home for Children and others. From frontier witness to founding some of the state's most venerable mission agencies, we look forward to coming together from different branches to celebrate our history and our future.”

According to organizers, this event is not an attempt to bring about organic uniformity among the different Presbyterian denominations, nor is it an effort to minimize the denominations' doctrinal differences. "In an era of divisiveness in church and society, we believe Mississippi Presbyterians, while having undergone separations in generations past, model a type of collegiality that is missing in our world," added Rev. Michael Herrin, First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson. "'Hope for Years to Come' represents different denominations and theological commitments, but seeks to find points of commonality in history and mission for the sake of the gospel."

The event, on November 4, 2017, 10 a.m - 3 p.m., will be held in Belhaven University's Dr. Billy Kim International Center and include worship and speakers such as Rev. Dr. David Jussely, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Milton Winter, who has written a three-volume history of Mississippi Presbyterians, will be the keynote speaker. During the celebration, a mission fair will give participants a chance to learn about the many different ministries supported by congregations throughout the state. The day will conclude with a concert, “Music Celebrating the Reformation,” featuring the Belhaven Music Department at Covenant Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m.