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Revival leads to question of what next

What's next?

Indeed, that is a profound question.

Last week, a pair of Albany churches did something unusual. Bethel A.M.E. Church invited First Presbyterian Church of Albany to be the guest church at its three days of revival services.

That, in itself, is not what was uncommon. Churches bring in guest ministers for revivals, and many turn the entire services over to the minister and choir of the guest church.

What made this one a bit different was Bethel, an African-American church, asked First Presbyterian, a predominately white church, to participate. The Rev. Ernest Davis Jr., pastor at Bethel, had the inspiration for a purpose to the invitation -- to reach across racial lines in a community where race too often is a prevailing factor.

"I don't know if I'll see something like this again in my lifetime," Davis said Wednesday at the conclusion of the services. "But I thank God that I was a part of it."

The Rev. Garrett Andrew, the pastor of First Presbyterian who brought the messages at the services, noted that belief that change is possible has to precede any actual change that will occur.

"Sometimes we look at our community and say we can't do any better. We can't get past our issues; we'll never overcome racial problems; it'll never happen, not in Albany, Georgia," he told the packed church Wednesday night. "That's a pretty low bar. We have a God that can do anything. A God that can bring churches together, and can bring people together. So go tell people, go tell the naysayers, the unbelievers; go tell Albany that this community can indeed change."

By all accounts, it was an energizing experience, one that left quite a few people with a feeling of optimism about where Albany could go.

And that was the question that many were left with. Where will it go from here?

That is yet to be determined.

One series of revival services won't alter a community's view, won't dissolve prejudice and distrust, won't create a feeling of togetherness. It won't heal all wounds or make amends for mistakes and failures of the past.

But it can plant a seed.

And even if that seed is as small as the proverbial mustard seed, it is something that can grow if there is nurturing and effort.

And what results can change a landscape.