TAR HEEL — Jesus + Unity > Diversity — some might say it’s the formula for a well-adjusted society. If so, some Tar Heel churches have figured out the solution.
A coalition began several months ago when Clark’s Chapel AME Zion Church, a predominantly black church, held a trustee program at its facilities and invited other area churches to attend, an opportunity taken advantage of by Tar Heel Baptist Church, a predominantly white congregation.
“We had such great fellowship at that time, and (Tar Heel Baptist Church pastor Devon Varnum) called me and asked about meeting and doing a program together,” said the Rev. John Morrison, pastor of Clark’s Chapel.
“God really burdened me that we should be joined together, after all that went on with Dallas and Baton Rouge,” said Varnum.
The pastors not only shared a desire for more dialogue and interaction, but they realized they also shared a common goal.
“There are supposedly 19,000 unreached people in Bladen County,” said Varnum. “Part of the reason we’re doing this is if we’re going to reach that number, we have to work together. What Bladen County needs is the gospel.”
To those ends, the duo of ministers planned an afternoon of fellowship and worship, starting with a covered dish meal. Varnum encouraged everyone to come, regardless of whether or not they have food prepared.
“We’ll have enough food for everybody,” he said.
After the meal, attendees will worship together. Clark’s Chapel’s choir will lead things off, followed by a sermon from Varnum laying out seven commonalities to all believers. His own choir will then sing, followed by Morrison’s sermon and a time of praying together.
“Everybody’s telling us we’re so divided,” said Varnum. “I hope to see people from all different backgrounds — socioeconomic and races — coming together, and when we worship, it will be as close to heaven on earth as we can get,” said Varnum.
While the worship service is going on, children’s activities, including bounce houses, are planned for youngsters.
An offering will be taken, and even that part of the service was planned with unity in mind.
“We wanted something we could all rally around,” said Varnum. “We all care about kids, no matter our background, and they all go to the same schools here, so proceeds will go to Tar Heel Middle School and Plain View Primary.”
All churches in Tar Heel have been issued invitations, and the service is open to anyone wishing to go, but the pastors hope the culmination of the activities is not the end.
“I’d like to see more community activities with all the churches,” said Morrison. “And not just churches, but the whole community coming together as one and communicating outside racial barriers.”
“Our hope is that this is the beginning of something — the launch,” said Varnum. “My prayer is that revival would come to our churches and communities, and we would start to see the effects of people joining together, reaching out to help win people to Jesus Christ together.”
He added of the services, “We want to not make much of ourselves or make much of our diversity, but to make much of Jesus Christ and the unity we have in Him.”
The Together As One event will take place at Tar Heel Baptist on Sunday, Aug. 7. The meal will begin at 4:30 p.m., followed by service at 6 p.m.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.