Churches unite in joint worshipsBuhl, Thayer swap pulpits, congregations in Black History Month-related Community Worship Services

The Revs. Samuel Buhl and Robert Thayer had so much fun switching pulpits last fall that they decided to do the same with their congregations.
In the first of their Community Worship Services at 9:15 a.m. Sunday, Buhl will bring his St. James Missionary Baptist Church members and preach at Thayer’s Odessa Bible Church at 2110 e. 10th. Then Thayer and his congregants will walk the city block to Buhl’s 2212 E. 11th St. church, have breakfast and worship again at 10:45 a.m. with Thayer preaching.
“Bob and I loved swapping pulpits, and it will be great during Black History Month to get a different perspective,” Buhl said. “We serve the same God and serve in this community, so we might as well serve together. We expect at least 300 people.”
Repeating a phrase he used in a February 2015 interview with the OA, Buhl said, “There is no black Heaven or white Heaven, there is just Heaven.
“This is the rehearsal down here on earth, and there are many members of the same body. We also had a fellowship with Bob’s church last summer, brought barbecue pits over here and had a big old humdinger of a barbecue. I preach like most African-Americans preach, and I plan on preaching exactly like I preach here. We elevate our voices, we get kind of loud. We call it ‘hooping.’ We’re preaching but using our singing voices in closing out our messages.”
Thayer said Buhl and he “met several months ago at a hospital luncheon and stuck up a friendship.
“Our church loved it when we switched pulpits that Sunday, then we had the barbecue,” he said. “Most of my church already knew most of his church because they work together at the hospitals and in the oilfield. The breakfast burritos will raise money so the kids can go to summer camps.”
Thayer agreed with Buhl that worshipping the same God outweighs ethnic or cultural differences. “Any time you experience something different, it opens your eyes,” he said.
“We love and worship the same God, so while our style of worship is different, the object of our sermons and worship is the same. We share the same neighborhood, and we’re preaching from the same Bible about the same Lord. It’s fun to worship together.
“We have the same sense of community, friendship and love for one another. That’s the great benefit.”