Three Ohio congregations largely consisting of different ethnic groups — Caucasian, African-American and Hispanic — have merged together to make one multiethnic church.
Norwood Church of Christ, Madisonville Church of Christ, and Iglesia de Christo came together to form Indian Mound Avenue Church of Christ on New Year's Day.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday, Indian Mound Avenue lead Pastor Greg Jasper explained that the three congregations were already sharing the same building in advance of the merger, as they all met separately at Norwood Church of Christ.
"Once I became affiliated with these groups and eventually became the senior minister to the predominately African-American congregation, I saw an opportunity as a biracial person to try to unite these three groups," said Jasper.
"I began to make efforts for discussions on how to accomplish this. And in time God made it crystal clear that what was best for His Kingdom and what was best for all three groups was that we unite as one congregation and no longer be three congregations sharing a building."
At present, Indian Mound Avenue has a membership of about 150, with their service being held on New Year's Day. Since then, the new congregation continues to offer two services, one in English and one in Spanish for members of the former Iglesia de Christo who are still not fluent in English.
"We have held a few with all three groups and brought in a translator to help us in one of the services to sing songs in English and Spanish," explained Jasper.
"We will, at a minimum, have a full joint worship in English and Spanish with translators quarterly. But we feel it is most beneficial for the teaching of God's Word that on a regular basis everyone is taught in the language they understand best."
The creation of the new Indian Mound Avenue congregation comes at a time when many believe that racial tensions in the United States are on the rise.
Jasper told CP that he is hoping Indian Mound Avenue can be a "model for other churches to follow" when it comes to multiethnic cooperation and community.
"With all that has been and is still going on in our country we are hoping that our church merger can be a ray of sunshine for those losing hope in our ability, as Americans, to have unity," said Jasper.
"Sunday across the country is still in 2017 the most segregated day of the week. It is our hope and prayer that as other Christians hear about us that they will seek more unity in their church families and in the cities where they live, wherever they may be."