JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Some Jackson pastors say it’s high time for elected leaders to put aside their political differences and fix the city’s water.
On Monday, EPA Administrator Michael Regan met with about two dozen pastors in the capital, where he asked their views on the ongoing water crisis.
The event was hosted by the New Hope Baptist Church, and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and several city staff were in attendance.
New Hope pastor Dr. Jerry Young said Monday’s meeting was a good first step in bringing leaders together. He paraphrased basketball great Michael Jordan saying, “You can win basketball games with pure talent. But if you want to win a championship, you have to have a team… We have to have a team approach to this.
Young says he wants to hold a series of meetings with church, city and state leaders to come up with “a comprehensive plan for how we move forward, not trying to get carried away, but doing what we have to do.” been elected – take care of the people’s business.
“If people aren’t big enough to approach it from that perspective, then we’re going to have to do the next best thing, which is to identify other people to lead us, who have the capacity, so to speak. , to exercise enough humility so that we can create that kind of cooperation in this community,” he said.
Young echoed the concerns of many in the community, who called on Lumumba and Governor Tate Reeves to work together to resolve the crisis, which at its height left more than 150,000 people without clean water.
On Sept. 13, for example, the council passed a resolution urging the mayor to “cooperate fully with federal and state authorities…to bring Jackson’s water and sewer system to full and sustainable functionality.”
And a week earlier, residents of the Bel Air neighborhood had told them to “grow up, come together and find a solution” to the problem.
The crisis began on August 29, after equipment failures at the OB Curtis water treatment plant cut off water service for tens of thousands of customers. Several state agencies were deployed to help fix the problem, and water service was restored a few days later. A state-imposed boil water advisory was lifted on September 15.
During the emergency, the mayor, governor and his aides traded numerous barbs on everything, including daily updates on whether the two had “dueling press conferences.”
A day after the boil water advisory was lifted, Reeves even told an audience in Hattiesburg that it was a “great day not to be in Jackson.”
Young, who is also president of the National Baptist Convention, says Jackson’s water crisis and the back and forth between top state and city elected leaders are a symptom of a larger problem of division affecting the entire state.
“Everything is division. It’s us against them. It’s Republicans versus Democrats. It’s black against white. It’s white against black. It’s men against women,” he said. ” It is what it is. And the truth is, in the final analysis, if we don’t come together as a community to address these issues…and if we don’t find leaders who can lead us at this level, I’m afraid the results.”
Young says it’s time for the faith community to help bridge the gap. “That’s why I call together pastors, black and white, Jewish and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic,” Young said. “I believe it’s time for the church to stand up and be the church, and give moral authority to this state, to this city, to this county.”
Monday’s meeting, he said, was a good first step in achieving that goal. However, Young warns that the problem will not be solved overnight. “I think that starts us on this road,” he said. “Progress isn’t always about speed. Often it is a matter of direction.
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