Here's the picture: An ecumenical lunch between members of several historically African-American church denominations and members of the Republican National Committee.
OK, pencil in African-American pastors from non-denominational churches, color in the Catfish Cabin and frame the whole thing in Memphis.
That's the scenario that came into view on Wednesday (March 7th), thanks in large part to Pastor Chester Berryhill and his wife Vivian, president of the National Coalition of Pastors' Spouses. They organized the lunch to welcome RNC members, who were in Memphis for the RNC's annual spring meeting.
The AME, Baptist, National Baptist, Progressive Baptist, Church of God In Christ (COGIC), United Methodist and Non-Denominational churches were represented as the Berryhills moved to showcase the history and strength of the African-American faith community.
Pastors in attendance included Dr. Russell Morrow (United Methodist Church), Dr. James L. Netters (Progressive Baptist), Elder Linwood Dillard (COGIC), the Rev. Robert Clark (Non-Denominational), Dr. Robert Smith (Non-Denominational), Dr. Juan Self (National Baptist) and Dr. Michael Minor (National Baptist).
"Pastor Berryhill and his wife Vivian worked hard to assemble the various denominations and leaders for this unprecedented gathering," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "We thank them for breaking bread with us and embracing the RNC."
Over hushpuppies and catfish, the group – 75 RNC and 25 church representatives – discussed issues being faced on the national and community levels. Along the way they shared their values and principles.
The ecumenical luncheon opened the RNC's spring meeting, which included the announcement of five new additions to the RNC's Rising Stars program and a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum led by Dr. Alveda King.
The Rising Stars include 19-year-old Lee Jackson, who was profiled in The New Tri-State Defender this week. A college student and minimum wage worker, Jackson is a member of the school board in Old Town, Maine.
In the TSD interview, Jackson said, "I see firsthand the taxes that are taken out of paychecks, taxes on food, taxes on clothing. There is so much taxing. How much of the money we earn do we really get to keep?
"We feel the better way to govern is for everyone to have fair and equal opportunities to pursue their dreams. We want to see people keep more money in their pockets. This is our message. We welcome the opportunity to open dialogue on these issues."
In addition to Jackson, the other Rising Stars are:
* Amber Barno, Army Veteran, Military Advisor at Concerned Veterans, and Senior Advisor at Independent Women's Forum;
* Veronica Muzquiz Edwards, Founder and CEO of InGenesis, Hispanic Business Leader;
* Clarice Navarro, Colorado State Representative District 47;
* Mike Pantelides, Mayor of Annapolis.
"I'm continually amazed by the caliber of individuals who are part of our Rising Stars program," said Priebus.
"This group represents the diversity in our party, and I look forward to working with Amber, Veronica, Lee, Clarice, and Mike so that they can share their stories while also helping the party engage with young voters, women voters, urban voters, and minority voters."