Diverse local churches join forces
For the past three years two local churches have worked together to provide a one-day Vacation Bible School to members and friends of their respective churches and the community.
What makes this unusual is that one of the church’s congregation is primarily Caucasian American white and the other is predominately African American.
Dee Ellison, pastor of At the Cross Ministries and the Rev. Carol Hallman of First United Church of Christ (UCC) met soon after Rev. Hallman was called to First UCC and they began talking.
They began to look for ways that their two churches could work together to bridge the racial divide that still exists between churches in America.
First United Church of Christ comes out of the Reformation tradition, while At the Cross Ministries is seven years old with many traditions rooted in the African American and non-denominational experiences.
There are many things that they do differently when they worship separately, but for one weekend a year they spend Saturday together providing VBS, and Sunday joining in worship together followed by a covered dish supper.
“We watch the children and youth and when we get together it’s like they’ve never been apart. They really enjoy spending time with each other and have truly made new friends,” Rev. Hallman said.
Always looking for ways to do things together, last year they also did a joint Christmas Eve children’s pageant followed by cookies and hot chocolate.
“I believe that the fellowship we experience together is just like what Heaven will be. Watching the children and youth interact is really beautiful; even the adults have so much fun and respect for each other. Perhaps we are practicing how it should be on earth so that when we come together in heaven there will be no regard to race, inequalities, or injustices; just all God’s children and creation together as one.” says Rev. Dee.
So far, joint worship has occurred at First UCC but soon At the Cross Ministries will be in its new church building at 201 W. D Ave.
They hope to offer hospitality to the members of First UCC and the community and are looking forward to sharing worship in their new space.
For some it might not be much, but Rev. Carol and Pastor Dee believe that it is a start to crossing boundaries and borders that too often separate the people of God.
In worship, even though we worship differently it is a way to bring us together as we praise and give thanks to the one who created and is creating even yet.
This year’s VBS is today from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and worship is at 11 a.m. on Sunday 3 at First UCC, 207 W. Horah St.
To learn more, call FUCC, 704-633-2723 or ATC, 704-433-6662.