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Worship service aimed at bringing community together

Set for Friday at Old City Park by Caitlan Butler | November 17, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

In many ways, it's been a dark year for El Dorado. Homicides are up, the COVID pandemic continues and political division seems unending.

Myrtis Hooks, an El Dorado native and member of the El Dorado High School Class of 2000 who moved back to the city about five months ago, said the city looks a lot different now than it did when she was growing up.

"I went to a City Council meeting and my head was hurting. It's just different from when I came up. Everybody seems so angry," she said. "There's a lot going on, with COVID and loved ones gone on."

Also a recording artist, Hooks realized that one great unifier is music, so she's planning a gospel concert that she hopes will help bring the community together.

"God pressed on my heart," she said. "I wanted to do something free for the community, gather everyone around and do a worship service -- a cry of healing for our city. I wanted to render what I have."

Set for Friday, Nov. 25 -- the day after Thanksgiving -- Hooks will be joined by her nephew Amon Miller, also an EHS grad currently working at Southern Arkansas University, and cousin Lepatrick Miller as they sing a selection of gospel songs.

"There's a lot of people hurting and there's a lot of people that love music," she said.

The event is not associated with any particular church, though Hooks said local churches have been notified about the event. She said she wanted to ensure everyone, regardless of denomination or what church they attend, feels welcome at the event.

"It's independent, but the churches are supporting us," she said. "We didn't want it to be a certain denomination or church, we just want everyone to come together. We didn't want it to be just a 'Black church' or just a 'white church.' Black, white, Mexican -- everybody's invited."

Eventually, Hooks said, she hopes to be able to hold regular community concerts aimed at bringing the city's residents together.

But for now, she's just hoping the community will join her next Friday.

"I just want to feel like I did growing up when I lived here... El Dorado is big, but it's not too big that we can't keep positivity together," she said. "We want to have the city come out and see if we can spread the positivity, try to bring people together.

The worship service is set for Friday, Nov. 25, at 6 p.m. at Old City Park and is open to the public. In case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the Mike Dumas Pavilion at the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex, Hooks said.

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