In 1999, the Winter Institute began working in the local community to help identify issues of concern and to help build local alliances to address those concerns. The result was Oxford-Lafayette Amos, a faith–based coalition of almost 20 congregations working together for systemic social and economic change by training local leaders and identifying and resolving community issues influenced by race.
The Amos Network has made significant gains in developing affordable housing, promoting excellence in local public schools, and helping the working poor manage debt. Over the last several years, AMOS helped create an affordable housing initiative with representatives from the city of Oxford, Lafayette County and the University of Mississippi, known as LOU-Home, which provides training for potential homeowners and has placed families in homes in the area.
The Winter Institute participates as a support partner for the Interchurch Committee for Racial Harmony, formed by a group of Oxford churches to increase interracial church participation and dialogue. The group hosts pulpit exchanges between churches with traditionally white congregations, such as St. Peter’s Episcopal and Oxford-University United Methodist, and churches with traditionally black congregations, such as Burns United Methodist and Second Baptist Church. The committee also hosts an annual interracial grove tent at a University of Mississippi football games and a downtown church potluck. They are also expanding efforts aimed at interracial/interchurch youth groups.
In addition, in 2013, First Baptist Church and Second Baptist Church entered a dialogue around the history of racial divisions in Oxford. In 1968, First Baptist effectively adopted a closed-door policy towards African-American people. In 2013, First Baptist nullified the policy and issued a public apology to Second Baptist, beginning the process of dialogue and sharing between the two churches.
Excel by 5
We are also proud to support an alliance of community members and organizations who have lifted up Lafayette County as a certified Excel By 5 Early Childhood Community.