Open conversations – Removing barriers to community

Published 6:27 pm Sunday, August 6, 2023

An Editorial Opinion of The Luverne Journal

Recently, a community member shared her story of a painful experience, one she encountered in a local church on a Sunday morning.

This local Black woman was invited to church by a white friend. “Our church is so friendly,” they said. “You should come visit this Sunday.” And so, she did.

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She attended the church, with her young Black son, and, having lived several years in a large urban city and attended a church where different races worshiped together, she expected a warm, intimate service. But that vision never materialized.

Instead, she felt alone in the large auditorium. Packed with people, many she knew, the church building was filled with all white members. Some welcomed her warmly and asked her to return while others cast disapproving glances her way, and a few, like her son’s basketball coach, pretended not to see her.

The woman felt hurt and alone in the place she had most expected to meet with the love of a faith family. She felt embarrassed for her young son who seemed not to notice what impacted his mother so deeply. Most of all, she told our staff with tears in her eyes how frustrated felt by the fact that communities and churches can be so segregated in an age where people promote ideas like equality, diversity, unity, and acceptance.

Barriers to a unified community crop up in the strangest of places, like weeds in a vegetable garden. Left unchecked, they choke the life out of fruit-bearing plants and community relationships alike.

An effort to cover community news opened an honest conversation a few weeks ago, when someone pointed out that some in the community felt our publications did not care about covering their news. The revelation was eye opening because newsroom staff had not, until that moment, considered that there were people, places, and events missing from our pages due simply to the fact that those individuals and groups thought we did not care about their stories.

Greenville Newspapers, Inc. publishes three community newspapers – The Greenville Advocate, The Lowndes Signal, and The Luverne Journal. Staff can be stretched rather thin at times and sometimes fail to cover everything we would like to. But our publications are here to serve all of our communities – all schools, all denominations, all races, all people.

To that end, we invite you to share your news with us. Send us your stories, your photos, and your contact information. With your help, we want to highlight what is happening in our area, especially the good things. When we fail to recognize your important news, and chances are we will at times, let us know so that we can do better.

We are, after all, your community newspaper. Our staff is grateful for the woman who shared her experience with us and to the individuals who were not afraid to have open conversations about feeling left out of our publications. To submit stories, email