More Baptists Push for Unity with Joint Revival
Baptist churches from the East and West ends of Baltimore have come together in a collaborative effort to bridge the gap between the two halves of the city and celebrate revival.
The 10th annual "simultaneous revival" is a weeklong event that kicked off on Sunday and expects to draw thousands of Baltimore residents and members from 17 Baptist congregations. Their mission is to draw lost souls as they demonstrate a spirit of unity.
"It sends a message that we are united," said the Rev. H. Waldon Wilson II, pastor of Israel Baptist Church in East Baltimore and president of the revival, according to The Baltimore Sun. "The church is only one church, and we want to not just teach it and preach it. We want to demonstrate it."
"Revive Us As One Body in Christ" is this year's revival theme and Baltimore residents are encouraged to join daily noonday worship at Faith Baptist Church in East Baltimore this week and then return to their individual churches for nightly services.
The revival ends Friday with a joint Holy Communion service at Greater Gethsemane Baptist Church.
In recent years, congregations from both ends have begun worshipping together at the annual revival amid division between East Baltimore and the West.
"They sensed the need for East and West to come together," Wilson told the local Sun newspaper. "We are supposed to be one in Christ. Christ unites – he doesn't divide."
And the revival provides an opportunity to create "a strong Christian united witness in the city," said the Rev. Hoffman F. Brown III of Wayland Baptist Church in West Baltimore.
Baptists nationwide are pushing for a stronger united witness to the world as they aim to cross divides and unite around what they have in common. The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the largest African American religious organization in the country, recently came out of their annual session in Philadelphia where they trumpeted a message of unity. And NBCUSA will join a larger North American Baptist initiative – the New Baptist Covenant – in January that is expected to draw some 20,000 Baptists from various Baptist fellowships to demonstrate unity.
Baltimore's simultaneous revival was based off a similar program in Cleveland, said Wilson, who wanted to bring the concept to his city to unite churches and pastors. The event is also held in October to get people to return to church after a period of summer vacations when church commitment typically drops.
"We feel as though this is a good time to get people pumped up," said Wilson.