The Transylvania Times -

County Churches Make History As Members Attend A First-Ever Joint Worship Service – Pisgah Forest NC

 

Glade Creek Baptist Church in Pisgah Forest was filled to capacity when more than 200 church-goers attended a first-time-ever joint worship service. The event was organized by pastors of five local churches. A massed choir represented all the churches. (Courtesy photo)

Never before in Transylvania County’s history have the congregations of all five predominantly African-American churches worshipped together on a Sunday morning. The un-precedented event recently occurred at Glade Creek Baptist Church.

Many times over decades, the members of Bethel, Bethel “A”, Glade Creek, New French Broad Baptist Churches and Open Bible Resurrection Life Church of God in Christ (COGIC) have assembled for services that range from Easter Sunrise to funerals to revivals. But until recently, each congregation religiously met at each one’s own place.

To everything there is a season and the season for this joint service has been a long time coming.

Bethel and New French Broad, originally named French Broad Baptist Church, are both over 150 years old. Glade Creek celebrated its centennial anniversary last August and Bethel “A” will soon be 100.

When these churches were established, although the memberships were small, there were practical purposes for having separate churches. Proximity to the members’ homes was a primary factor. Most parishioners walked to church so it was important to have a place to worship within a reasonable walking distance.

Open Bible Resurrec-tion Life, originally separate congregations, is the only COGIC church in the county.

Through several generations the memberships of these churches waxed and waned, sometimes at the expense of one another. Then a few years ago, pastors Jones, Erwin, Gordon, Suber and Elder Young began dialogue surrounding how to build stronger unity within the African-American community.

“It didn’t just happen overnight,” recounts Rev. Suber. There were many concerns as well as logistical issues that needed to be addressed, but through faithful persistence and honest conversation these leaders overcame barriers and embraced the courage to the lead their congregations in this new direction.

Suber enthusiastically offered to host this joint service at Glade Creek. The picture perfect sunny Sunday morning began with over 130 in Sunday School. Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” was the theme upon which every class built their lessons.

It was more than good and pleasant – it was electrifying. In a sanctuary filled to capacity, the energy of the Holy Spirit was contagious as worship leaders from each church and a combined choir of over 50 voices led praise songs. The congregants contributed powerful personal testimonies and songs.

Danny Walker of the Glade Creek Baptist Church was one of the soloists. He sang, “What Will It Be Like Over Yonder?”

Rev. Marshall Erwin’s sermon, “Being Fruitful in Your Land of Suffering,” from Genesis 41:52 emphasized that people should stay close, connected and committed to God during troubled times. Doing so promotes unity because everyone experiences misfortune at some time, and rather than isolating we can be assured that others have also had difficulties – often the same situation. These experiences are opportunities to reach out, for Christians to minister to one another even while being ministered to. Enduring trials together forges stronger bonds between people, families, churches and the community.

Afterwards, many people from the various churches endorsed doing this again. Some want to do it monthly, others quarterly, some even suggested merging all the churches into one. The pastors have agreed on a goal of making it an annual occasion.

“It was an honor to be used by the Lord,” said Rev. Erwin, “It was a great feeling. The Lord has had his way.”

 
 

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