• January 17, 2019

TEXAS VIEW: One In Christ services erase division, strengthen community - Odessa American: Texas Opinion

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TEXAS VIEW: One In Christ services erase division, strengthen community

THE POINT: Every challenge any community faces can be solved only by groups committed to earnestly listening to each other.

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Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2019 3:30 am

We always enjoy seeing efforts where different groups come together for a common vision or shared value, and it was gratifying to see four local churches spearhead a worship service of unification aimed at removing borders, divisions and categories that people (inside the church and outside of it) find themselves defined by. It is with an eye toward erasing dividing lines that the One In Christ service was designed.

Without delving into too much history, ancient or otherwise, the church’s record in this area has not always been stellar, but why spend time worrying about water under the bridge? The initial service, which took place Sunday at St. John Baptist Church on NW 14th Street was well-attended and offers hope that people from different faith traditions can still come together and connect over their commonalities rather than fret about their differences. We see no reason that subsequent meetings shouldn’t enjoy similar success.

Pastors Manny De Los Santos of Power Church, Andrew Hebert of Paramount Baptist Church, David Ritchie of Redeemer Christian Church and Anthony Harris of St. John Baptist are to be commended for their efforts toward emphasizing inclusion and unity. “One in Christ is such an important concept because we do live in a divided culture,” Pastor Ritchie told our reporter last week. “We see that division every day — people group pitted against people group.” It is encouraging to see groups put aside their theological differences and come together.

Throughout 2019, One In Christ services will take place each quarter. The next three are scheduled to be held at the churches over which the other three pastors preside. We are hopeful the next three gatherings create a similar response and engagement from the community. For many generations, churches were the central gathering spots in neighborhoods and served as not only a meeting place on Sundays for renewal of faith, but also a meeting place at other times for renewal of social connections. The pastors, their congregations, and others who attend these services hope to see more than a unifying spirit within the walls of the church. They expect what takes place inside to be carried outside the sanctuaries and into the daily life of neighborhoods and communities.

Likewise, the pastors understood that as much power as there is in unity, there is a lack of power in division. We’re gratified to see local churches taking leadership positions and working together toward effecting positive change in the community. We’re hopeful this initial gathering becomes a movement, gathering steam, attention and traction as the year continues. If the first meeting is any indication, there are a number of people who want to be a part of something positive that encourages them to get involved in something larger than themselves.

Every challenge any community faces can be solved only by groups committed to earnestly listening to each other and then moving with purpose and mutual respect toward a solution. All of this can happen only if someone intentionally chooses to take the first step. For the here and now in a recently christened new year, a step has been taken. It remains to be seen what the results will be, but we commend this group of pastors for their vision and their commitment and look forward to what might result from this encouraging first step, which, no doubt, has been taken in faith.

Odessa, TX

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