“We have been praying about a more unified way of bringing our congregations together. This seemed to be the most sensible one to do.”
Bethel Christian Church Pastor Vincent Dial
By COLLIN BROOKS
The Jonesborough Area Ministerial Association will host its first community-based service on Sunday, May 1, at 11 a.m. inside David Crockett High School and everyone that would like to come is welcome to attend.
That was the message that a group of JAMA pastors that sat down recently with the Herald and Tribune wanted to make sure the public hears.
“We have been praying about a more unified way of bringing our congregations together,” Bethel Christian Church Pastor Vincent Dial said. “This seemed to be the most sensible one to do.”
The group started planning the event last year and as it gets closer and closer to the date, Dial says it is beginning to gain momentum.
Eight churches are involved in putting on the service, including Bethel Christian Church, First Baptist Church, Jackson Park Church of the Brethren, Central Christian Church, Jonesborough Presbyterian Church, Jonesborough United Methodist Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Telford United Methodist Church.
Central Church Pastor Bob Roberson has been a part of JAMA since he began preaching at his church and says that the group has been looking for some time for ways to bring the worshipping communities together.
“JAMA primarily supports a food bank for people that need help on this end of Washington County,” he said. “We have been looking to do something for two to three years that would expand the witness of JAMA, beyond just a food bank.”
The idea of pulling the congregations together is simply a way to allow the different congregations to see that even though they worship separately, the unifying belief is Jesus Christ, according to Roberson.
“JAMA does a great job of not getting caught up on the different theologies of the different congregations,” Roberson said. “And I am excited to be a part of JAMA and work with the men and women ministers.”
Michael Vaughn, the Pastor at Telford United Methodist Church, is the newest member of JAMA, but he said that having the event at the school could bring in some people that wouldn’t want to step foot inside of a church.
“The cool thing about doing it at Crockett is that hopefully it can be a safe place, for some people, that might not otherwise come into a church building -— and some for some probably legitimate reasons,” he said. “We just want this to be an open, relaxed, loving and welcoming worship experience for the entire community.”
One of the programs at Crockett has been a great example for the adults about getting people together. The FISH Program, which is a student-led organization, allows kids from different denominations to get together at the school and worship.
“When you see everybody coming together, it’s like, ‘it’s okay to follow Jesus, because look at all the people here,’ ” youth minister Mary Ann Clark said. “It doesn’t matter what church you are from; you are still one when you get there.”
Parishioner Patsy Morelock agreed with Clark.
“To me, it means that we are going to know that we are all there for one purpose. Christ is our purpose, no matter what denomination we are,” she said. “This will be someplace where people will be able to come and worship, and they don’t have to worry what they are.”
Besides bringing everyone together, parishioner Johnny Russaw said that it will also bring people of different ethnicities into the same building to get to know one another.
“We are trying to break these little things that we have had going on all these years,” he said. “I think this will be a big factor of getting people together.”
More than just uniting people in worship, Nancy Zirkle thinks the event will help create an even bigger hand to help the community.
“I think what is happening that day could lead to more community-based projects that we could do together,” she said. “We all have certain missions with our church, but if we all got together, then some of these bigger projects with our church would really make an impact on the community.”
While the May 1 worship may be a comfortable place for all, it will also be an unfamiliar one. And that can help people, according to parishioner Fred Cash.
“It gives us an opportunity to see what other people are doing and meet new people,” he said. “It will also give people an opportunity to come out of their comfort zone. You have to come out of your comfort zone in order to be the one that God wants us to be.”
The capacity at the school is between 3,300-3,400 people, with 300 chairs set up in front of the stage at David Crockett.
The event at David Crockett will kickoff a five-day community revival coordinated by JAMA. Nightly worship opportunities will be available, which include a youth event on May 1 at 6 p.m. at the Jonesborough United Methodist Church. On May 2, an event will start at Bethel Christian Church at 7 p.m., followed by another the following night at Jonesborough Presbyterian Church. The final two events will take place at Telford United Methodist Church at 7 p.m. on May 4 and a National Day of Prayer even in front of the Jonesborough courthouse on Thursday, May 5 at noon.