The two churches share the same neighborhood with only 300 yards separating them on Hollis Road off Pio Nono Avenue.
Aug. 20, on the heels of racial discord and violence that left one person dead in Charlottesville, Virginia, the churches — one predominantly black, the other predominantly white — met to worship Jesus Christ together and express unity.
But it wasn’t the first time.
“This is our second joint meeting and it was planned well before Charlottesville,” said Trey Dickerson, pastor of the mostly white High Point congregation. But God’s timing is perfect. It was the perfect occasion to meet again with our neighbors at Christ Temple All Cultures Ministries and show there can be real love between races and not just hate. Bishop Dr. Emmett Bright is pastor there and he and I have built a strong relationship and become good friends. This grew out of that.”
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High Point member Matt Fabian said services aren’t the only thing the two churches do together. He said in recent years the congregations have gone knocking on doors together in their surrounding community handing out gift bags, offering to pray for people’s needs and inviting them to church.
He said the gifts included a DVD with a message from both pastors. Dickerson said he and Bright have been together in groups that went out. “It really surprised a lot of people to see two pastors from two different churches together at their door, especially one black and the other white,” Dickerson said.
Opening the service, Dickerson proclaimed, “Jesus you are our peace, you are our reconciler,” and prayed God would let those attending bring peace and reconciliation to others in the community.
After a time of worship, Bright brought the evening’s message. It included a number of thoughts related to the current racially turbulent times and to God’s ability to bring blessing and freedom to all people.
Bright said fear was pervasive because people fear what tomorrow may bring and many fear losing their position and prosperity. He said God is able to help people overcome such fear and bring peace as well as blessing. However, citing the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, Bright said the blessings God brings and any resulting prosperity is not given to be hoarded, but to be shared to help others who have need, just as the Good Samaritan tended the wounds and paid for the care of the man he found robbed and beaten by the side of the road.
Bright noted the parable was an example of sacrificially caring for others across racial lines since it portrays as Samaritan who helped a Jew.
Pointing to scripture showing that people from all races worship God in heaven, Bright asked, “If you won’t get close to another nationality now, how will you do it over there?”
He added he was excited seeing the more than 100 people gathered worshiping God together during the service, black next to white, but said they also had to show themselves to be together “out there in the world” helping to bring Christ’s healing to those around them. “Our nation needs to be healed,” he said.
Tisha Burns is a member of Christ Temple. She said she was encouraged by the evening the congregations spent together but said it wasn’t just two churches having one meeting. She said it was an expression of real fellowship “like a huge family.”
“I hope others see this side of our neighborhood, of Macon and of the kind of love God can put in people’s hearts for one another,” she said. “People can look at Charlottesville and see how things can be torn down but we want to show how things can be built up. There’s a way to build things up. Fighting about your differences doesn’t work. We’re building instead.”
Dickerson said after the service that it’s important individual Christians take the challenge to walk in Christ’s love and reach across racial boundaries to bring unity.
“In order to break down boundaries we’re all going to have to aggressively pursue peace with one another, black, white, all races,” he said. “We’re going to have to spend time together like we did here. I’d like to encourage everyone — every church and every individual person — to do the same thing. Find someone. Be a peacemaker.”
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christ Temple All Cultures Ministries & High Point Church Unity Service
Websites: www.ctacministry.com & www.highpointmacon.com