They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love

By John Lepper

As I type the following lyrics written by Jason Upton, the tune keeps coming to my mind:

We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit
We are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity
May one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians
By our love, By our love
Yes, they'll know we are Christians
By our love

Several Owensboro congregations are growing in their experience of this bond of Christian Love. In October 2007, during a meeting of the Kentucky Council of Churches, a tornado hit the facilities of Third Baptist Church.  Those in attendance at the meeting escaped harm by moving to the basement only moments before the tornado hit. During the year that congregation was displaced, the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offered their sanctuary on several occasions.  They hosted Lenten services on behalf of Third Baptist and also hosted the Messiah presentation by the Owensboro Chorale Society. Third Baptist has hosted the Messiah presentation every year since 1947--except that one year.  First Christian offered their sanctuary to Third Baptist on a regular basis but this was not needed since Third Baptist was able to move to their gym, a part of their facilities that were not destroyed by tornado.

Now the tables have turned.  On March 18, 2013, an early morning fire destroyed the sanctuary of First Christian Church.  And while other parts of their building were not totally destroyed, their entire building became uninhabitable.  First Christian owned a house next door so they moved their offices to that building.  So what’s a congregation to do when their facilities have been destroyed by fire?

Two Baptist churches have reached out to First Christian Church to provide space, and in some instances, share ministry.  First Christian folks join Third Baptist in their Wednesday evening fellowship meal and some First Christian Church people stay for Third’s prayer meeting. Journey Fellowship provides space to First Christian Church for choir practice, Sunday School and Sunday Worship.  First Christian Church had a food pantry that is now being hosted by Third Baptist.  First Christian Church also had an after school program on Tuesdays and Thursdays for Burmese children.  Third Baptist Church now provides space for this after school program.  Third Baptist also hosts First Christian Church for some congregational meetings.

The tragic fire that destroyed the beautiful facilities of First Christian Church has prompted some intriguing, yet unforeseen, conversations about potential partnerships. Simultaneous dialog began to bubble up within both First Christian Church and Third Baptist Church; it was decided that these conversations could not be ignored.  Two outside leaders were asked to facilitate these discussions.  Greg Alexander, General Minister of The Christian Church In Kentucky and John Lepper, Coordinator of Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, facilitated this initial exploratory conversation on Sunday afternoon, April 28, 2013.  A report of that meeting was given to each congregation on Wednesday, May 1. Now each congregation is in the process of deciding whether or not to take the next step.  

See the following link to the newsletter of Third Baptist Church for the report of this exploratory meeting (scroll down to page 2):