TAR HEEL — With images of diversity and segregation permeating mainstream media, any evidence of racial unity is a welcome breath of fresh air, and at least some Bladen County residents are inhaling deeply after Sunday.
A “Together As One” event was planned by the Rev. John Morrison of Clark’s Chapel AME Zion Church — a predominantly black church — and the Rev. Devon Varnum of Tar Heel Baptist Church — whose congregation is mostly white — for the purpose of bringing together a diverse group of believers in Tar Heel to fellowship and worship together and to begin to unite for a common goal.
“There are supposedly 19,000 unreached people in Bladen County,” said Varnum prior to the effort. “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.”
A covered dish fellowship meal began at 4:30 p.m., followed by a worship service. Clark’s Chapel Choir started things off, followed by a sermon from Varnum on the commonalities to all believers. Tar Heel Baptist’s choir then sang, followed by Morrison’s sermon and a time of prayer.
“(Last week), Rev. Morrison called me to say that he felt led to preach on Ephesians 4, which was the same passage that I felt led to preach on. In fact, I’ll tell you how unified God had us — that night, we had on the same sport coat, and hadn’t planned it,” laughed Varnum.
The focus for the day, rather than being on the evident diversity, was on the fact that believers have much more in common with one another than they have differences.
“It was amazing,” said Varnum. “People showed up in droves — we had at least 200, which is as many as our church can hold — from at least 10 different churches of different ethnic backgrounds. God really moved.”
While the services were going on, children played on bounce houses outside with apparent disregard for their disparities.
“I’ve never been in a service where there was so much unity,” said Varnum, who previously expressed a hope that a diverse group united in worshiping one God would as closely mirror heaven as was possible on earth.
Around $1,000 was collected for an offering that will be distributed to Plain View Primary and Tar Heel Middle School. Principals from both schools, as well as numerous other county leaders, were present for the event. Morrison and Varnum plan to present checks to each school and afterwards discuss potential future plans.
“Our hope is that this is the beginning of something,” 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.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.