By Guest Columnist Rev. Robert E. McCallum
During the past two years, as churches, communities, and governing institutions, we have experienced many impacts upon our lives that we have not witnessed before in our lifetime. Hearing the phrase, “I never thought we would experience anything like this before,” became commonplace. All of us have been touched in some way by the destructive force of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this devastating period, we lost loved ones, relatives, neighbors, friends, jobs, and businesses like nothing we have ever experienced. Graveside services were conducted daily. Hospitals were understaffed and overworked. Teachers were forced to teach our children via Zoom while many of our families and students lacked the skills, resources, and necessary technology. We were placed on lockdown. Jobs closed. Churches closed. Schools closed. Food, tissue, water, and disinfectant were brought into our neighborhoods and communities by neighboring churches, businesses, and governmental institutions. They were distributed at designated distribution sites on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Despite our unfortunate plight the past two years, we the proud citizens of Canton, Mississippi, have proven ourselves to be a people of resilience with a determination to overcome our losses. I am filled with hope, and expectant of progress. I believe greater things are in our future. A dawn of a new beginning is on the horizon. A new beginning awaits our tomorrow.
January for many is a time of reevaluation, reinvigoration, recommitments, rebuilding, and revival. It is a time of new beginnings. It is a time for moving forward together in faith and fortitude with great anticipation and expectation. It is a time of new hope for a better tomorrow.
I am one filled with faith and optimism. I believe that we are on the verge of a new beginning. A new beginning means taking advantage of new job opportunities, getting back in our churches, supporting our schools, taking pride in our city, and standing up against violence, abuse, and victimization. It is a time of coming together as a community of resilient citizens. A new beginning requires that we rid ourselves of the baggage and garbage from the past as we lunge forward to greater things. We must not gaze back, as was the case of Lot’s wife in the Old Testament. Looking back mesmerizes us, immobilizes us, and paralyzes us, like Lot’s wife.
This is a season of recovery, renewal, and restoration. We must resolve to move forward. We must decide to not look back. We must resolve that there is nothing we can do about the past, but the present is full of glorious possibilities that can be fulfilled, if we would only endeavor to connect with each other and work together for the betterment of all our citizens.
In the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians, “Brethren, I count myself not to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Hopefully, the worst is behind us for the “roaring” 2020’s decade. We look to 2022 with great hope but with the knowledge we will be guarded, as time will be needed to transition back to our normal way of life, whatever that will be.
With all that we experienced in 2020 and 2021, let us rejoice and commit ourselves to make 2022 a year of recovery, restoration, rejuvenation, good health and a genuine love of our city and each other. As 2022 unfolds, I look forward to new beginnings for our churches, business and communities.
I thank our churches, police and fire employees, government agencies, schools, and first responders, for all they did to get us to this point safely. Their outstanding service cannot be overlooked. Our many volunteers continue to be the core of our community and offer support when needed, especially during our numerous food distributions days. They served our community in the raging heat, as well as, torrential rain.
As we enter a new year, I see a vast opportunity for a new beginning. Where do we start? We must genuinely learn to love and care for one another, listen to one another, lean on one another, laugh with one another, look out for one another, be willing to come together as churches and communities to lift one another. Our hope is in Christ. He is the way to a brighter, better day. He is the answer to a new beginning for us all.
David expressed the importance of hope when he faced a life-threatening crisis, he said, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed [had hope] that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) Let us embrace the New Year with a sense of hope and expectation, knowing that God will continue to love, protect and provide for us.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reverend Robert E. McCallum is a native of Jackson, Mississippi, and is married to Mrs. Carolyn Frazier McCallum; they are the parents of four children, Robert, Tiffany, Terrell and Timothy. Rev. McCallum is the pastor of Priestley Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Canton, Mississippi. Most importantly, he has a deep passion and love for people and is committed to the Spiritual progress and well-being of all mankind.