Micah Group forming in Durham, aims for social justice

The Micah Group poses for a photograph after their first organizational meeting in Durham, Monday, Oct. 2. (Staff photo by Yizhou Jiang)

Recently, a new Micah Group began recruiting new members in Durham in hopes of uniting a diverse community.

Micah Groups were formed in 2011 by the Ogilvie Institute of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in California to create communities of peers for better preacher development throughout the United States.

Each Micah Group is consist of 10-12 people with diverse denominational, cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds who are currently involved in some form of active ministry. Members gather for worship, prayer, reflection, and conversation related to the First Things curriculum, Ogilvie Institute’s specially designed eReader which members explore in their own time between meetings.

Rev. Scott Anderson, who is launching the new group in Durham, is the religious leader of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in the city.

Originally born in Minnesota, Anderson, 67, was called to the church in August of 2012.  He attended Wagner College in New York and received his MDIV from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in South Carolina.

During his time as the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Wake County in the 1990s, Anderson also received a Certificate in Nonprofit Management through Duke University. About six months ago, he was approached and asked to be the facilitator of the first Micah Group in Durham.

“We’ll spend a year, once a month, coming together to study issues and to work together to try to promote peace, justice and harmony in Durham,” he said, “For me personally, it was a choice to do because I’m a pretty typical-looking white older male —well I guess if you have the face of a white privilege in the dictionary—and I thought how do I communicate to my congregation that how folks like us were perceived by folks who aren’t like us, and how are we able to understand one another better.”

Anderson said he could not relate to the concerns that a well-respected African-American preacher told him last year when Black Lives Matter was so prominent. He wondered how to help the rest of his congregation to see a world beyond their eyes.

“I see a culture around us that wants to divide us and wants to find a way to pull us apart,” Anderson said, “and I don’t want to be a part of that. I want us to be different than that. How do I do that? The only way I can find is to be with a diverse group of people talking about how do we change our culture, make a difference and proclaim a message of peace and justice.”

Rev. Alice Wade Davis, who works for The United Methodist Church, where she pastors two churches—Community and Stem UMC, in the Heritage District—is the co-facilitator of the newly formed Micah Group.

“I joined the group to share my prophetic voice and to speak against injustices in our world alongside others who preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” she said, “I first heard about the group from Scott Anderson. He approached me concerning such injustices in our area and ask me to co-facilitate the group.”

Together, Davis and Anderson are responsible for such things as recruiting group members, facilitating meetings utilizing the Micah Groups curriculum and resources, building relationships with group members through interaction between meetings, and submitting periodic written reports and evaluations.

“The program is a very rich program that pushes one to think deeply about social justice issues,” said Davis, “My goal in the group is to train clergy, from an array of denominations, to preach the good news of the Gospel even if it is difficult to preach and difficult to hear. Faith will only come through the spoken Word of God.”

She continued, “My hope is to dismantle racism in our churches and in the wider community.”

Currently, seven people have registered to become new members. The group was to meet for the first time at St Paul’s Lutheran Church on Monday morning.

During the Micah Group meeting Monday, members discuss experiences they have had as pastors. (Staff photo by Yizhou Jiang)