?We?ve seen that the body of Christ is the body of Christ no matter
what labels man tries to put on it.?
by Kirk Noonan
Since 1989, Bright Temple Church of God in Christ and First Assembly of
God in Shelbyville, Tennessee have held 30 joint services, bringing
together black and white congregations for singing, worship, preaching and
prayer. Their partnership represents one of the ways churches are
embracing diversity, dismissing ignorance and pursuing reconciliation.
"(Holding joint services) has expanded our horizons," says
Glenn Forsee, pastor of First Assembly. "We?ve seen that the body
of Christ is the body of Christ no matter what labels man tries to put on
it. It?s bigger than our local congregation."
Elder Larry Crimson, pastor of Bright Temple, says coming together has
opened doors for God to move. "It always enhances our fellowship and
gives us an opportunity to see and appreciate the differences in our
styles," says Crimson. "I believe the Lord is truly pleased by
"We don?t have to be alike to be together," says Forsee.
"When churches build relationships with other churches it lays a
foundation for things to happen ? an atmosphere for God to work in
In San Francisco, Glad Tidings Church (Assemblies of God) is nurturing
relationships through prayer and teamwork. The inner-city, multiethnic
church devotes prayer time for an entire month to another local church. At
the end of the month, Glad Tidings has a combined service with the
congregation and presents the church with a monetary gift.
"First, we pray for them, then we bless them and then we enlist
them in the effort," says Jeff Green, pastor of Glad Tidings.
"Together we are made more complete in Christ."
According to Green, building relationships with other churches has
demonstrated to the community that the body of Christ is healthy and
In Nevada, the congregation of the International Church of Las Vegas
saw the power of God fall during a conference where foot washing served as
a symbolic act of reconciliation. During one of the sessions Paul Goulet,
pastor of the church, felt compelled to wash the feet of two of the
speakers ? one Hispanic, the other African American.
"I have never seen such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit,"
says Robert Douglas, senior associate pastor of the church.
"Reconciliation is the heart of God."
Goulet?s obedience sparked a chain reaction. People came forward,
humbling themselves as they washed other?s feet. A person of German
descent washed a Jewish man?s feet. African-American, white and Hispanic
brothers and sisters came forward to wash one another?s feet.
"The tremendous power of God filled that place," says
Douglas. "Washing feet breaks down walls."
As churches build reconciliation through exchange services, prayer and
the washing of feet, Pastor Green of Glad Tidings says the body of Christ
is strengthened and made whole.
"As the Spirit begins to move, we see that we have a commonality
of vision, purpose and anointing," says Green. "That causes us
to operate as one, and that?s a beautiful expression of who God
Reprinted by permission of the Pentecostal Evangel.