Reconciliation is
Breaking Strongholds

?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 this."

"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 people?s lives."

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 vibrant.

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 is."

Reprinted by permission of the Pentecostal Evangel.