Atlanta convention opens with keynote on “Realizing the Dream”

By Carolyn Lewis

Keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Byron E. Thomas (photo by George Conklin)

Rev Russell Pierce, executive director of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church welcomed the annual Religion Communicators Council convention to Atlanta. He said that Atlanta is an international city rich in history and pointed out that his staff is now working out of a local congregation after years of being in New York.

Keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Byron E. Thomas, senior pastor of Ben Hill United Methodist Church in Atlanta, called “bitterness on all sides” an impediment to improving relationships in the US.

Speaking on the theme of “Realizing the Dream of Peace and Justice through Communication,” he said, “Bitterness causes people to see others as an ‘it’ rather than a ‘thou.’”

“If we fail to deal with bitterness any progress will not bring a long lasting and endurable peace.”

He responded to concerns of people in the audience. “Some will never hear, but we work in the present and the future,” he said, noting the need to deal with people's children and grandchildren.

“Spiritual life and spiritual formation are critical in dealing with issues of the heart,” he added. “In prayer don't ask God to fix the other person, but to quell the bitterness of the heart within.”

He advised to rejoice at other accomplishments. “For my life to get better does not mean I want yours to get worse.”

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