About 150 people gathered at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church on July 26 at 4 p.m. for the Community Prayer and Unity Celebration service. With the issues that are trying to separate friends, family, community and country, the service’s theme was unity.
A separate prayer vigil also was held on Saturday evening with 25 people stopping by to meditate and pray for the Sunday service as well as other concerns.
“What we were trying to accomplish on Sunday was to live out our faith in a way that shows the love of God for all of us, despite our differences,” said the Rev. Judy Davis of Jonesville First Methodist and Ebenezer UMC.
Another attendee made the statement that, “It was like a part of Heaven in our midst.”
The scriptures highlighted were Psalm 133 (“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity…”), John 13 (“…By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”), and Micah 6:8 (“What does the Lord require of us but to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.”).
Two lay servants — people from the congregation who have been trained to speak and use their gifts to serve in the church and community — boldly tackled racism head-on and inspired all in attendance to move beyond racism to be the community God intends us to be.
Roberta Walker of Wesley Chapel read and spoke on Acts 2:46. She stressed how people must be united within and across denominational and racial lines in being the church — in worshipping, fellowshipping, and working together. Randy Hunsucker of Elkin First UMC spoke on “How to Sow Good Seeds.” He shared his personal experiences about white privilege, doing his part to end segregation, and promote justice for the marginalized (less privileged). Both speakers underlined the urgent need to crush racism.
Other lay servants lead worship: Tammy Stoker from Piney Grove UMC, Marian and Bob Spencer of Elkin First United Methodist Church, and Dawn Poston of Jonesville UMC. Music was provided by United Praise (combined praise team from Wesley Chapel and Piney Grove), Pastor Judy Davis of Jonesville First UMC and Ebenezer UMC and her husband Pastor Tom Davis, and Krista Haywood of Temple Hill UMC.
Clergy communion leaders were Mark Barden (Elkin First), Mark Smith (Maple Springs/Charity), John Taylor (newly appointed to Grassy Creek, Antioch, White Rock), Judy Davis (Jonesville First/Ebenezer), Jeanette Hayes (Wesley Chapel/Piney Grove) and Dr. Carl Arrington, the new district superintendent of the Appalachian District of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Pastor Greg Richard of Temple Hill/Roaring River United Methodist Churches, who was on his way to the service, sent his regrets because of an urgent emergency.
All the ministers present, regardless of their denomination, came together to visually represent community unity as everyone sang together the closing song, “Shalom to you,” which is Hebrew for “Peace to you.”
Most of the attendees stayed and enjoyed the fellowship meal following the service. Dorothy Moore of Wesley Chapel coordinated the fellowship meal. Food, drink and paper products were jointly provided by all of the area United Methodist churches and jointly served by members from all of the area United Methodist churches.
Those present encouraged the Missional Network, composed of lay and clergy members from all of the area United Methodist churches, to plan soon for the next upcoming gathering.
The Rev. Jeanette Hayes is minister of Wesley Chapel and Piney Grove United Methodist Churches.