Churches celebrate new partnership

September 11, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Only 188 steps separate John Wesley United Methodist Church from Asbury United Methodist Church.

A former pastor at John Wesley counted them, the Rev. Rick Jewell said.

And it was 188 years ago that the churches, once housed in the same building, broke apart - the black congregation worshipping at Asbury and the white congregation at John Wesley.

Sunday marked the first time the two came together in nearly 200 years, and what Jewell called the beginning of a partnership between the downtown churches.

The churches, for the most part, are still separated by race.

The partnership was initiated primarily because the churches will be sharing a pastor, the Rev. Brenda Mack. She began working in July as the pastor of Asbury and an associate pastor at John Wesley.


"I'm kind of a bridge between the two," she said.

One of her responsibilities is helping and encouraging the congregations from both churches to work together on ministry needs.

"It's putting the church to work," Mack said.

Jewell said he wanted to focus his Sunday sermon on two important anniversaries: the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina. Both events presented opportunities to talk about the importance of faith, he said.

After the attacks in 2001, citizens came together regardless of color or class, he said. The same was seen a year ago after Hurricane Katrina.

"Absolutely nothing can happen to us that together with our Lord we cannot handle," Jewell said.

When the World Trade Center towers fell, the country's symbols of wealth and power were attacked, and it was faith that rose in their place, he said.

"The true source of our power is faith," Jewell said.

Wealth and power failed again in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What was left was faith, he said.

"The real power is faith in our works," Jewell said.

After his sermon, he recognized the area's firefirefighters and police officers.

Perhaps the most symbolic sign of the newly formed partnership was when the choirs from John Wesley and Asbury United Methodist churches sang together.

Mack said the choirs only practiced together for a few minutes before the Sunday service.

"I can't imagine what they'd sound like if they had more time together," she said. "This was great."

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