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Churches Joining Forces for Good in Our Communities

Image: Helena Lopes

One of the very last things Jesus prayed over his disciples—and all followers to come—was that we would be united. And yet, today, according to the Gordon Conwell Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are somewhere around 45,000 Christian denominations globally

Churches splinter over all kinds of differences. But what if we could set aside the things that divide us and instead, unite around the center of our faith, Jesus Christ, and his call to be one in our community? Could we serve with joy and freedom alongside one another, despite our theological differences?

It is absolutely possible, and it is absolutely our kingdom calling to work together to usher in the New Creation, with Jesus as our King. Churches all around the country are setting aside their denominational differences in order to partner together with other believers for the good of the kingdom. 

Here are some ways that’s happening that might inspire your church family to stretch out their arms to a neighboring church:

Study Scripture Together

Here in my hometown and in communities across the country, Christians from multiple denominations have joined together to study God’s word through an international movement called Bible Study Fellowship. Each week, BSFs gather to read the same Scripture passage and then explore it through personal questions, group discussion, expository teaching, and written commentary.

BSFs actually avoid discussing and even revealing which denomination members are part of in order to keep their focus on the Bible. But… My community is close knit enough that I know there are folks from multiple denominations gathering together around the Bible, and I think that’s beautiful. What a great way for us to reunite, even while continuing to maintain our particular denomination’s way we feel called to live out the gospel.

Rally Around a Common Cause

Churches on the near west side of Cleveland, Ohio, have recently launched litter pilgrimages and other Creation Care strategies to care for our local environment.

The West Side Creation Care Team began with members from St. Malachi Parish, St. Paul’s UCC, St. Patrick’s Parish, St. Christopher’s, and Calvary Reformed Church, and now, other churches, including St. Peter, Cove City Church, and City Church in Tremont have begun to engage in creation care. 

All are committed to becoming part of the solution for caring for creation in their local community. 

The churches have launched “litter pilgrimages” throughout the year, which begin with prayer and reflection that encourages participants to think about how the litter got here in the first place… and where it goes from here. The group has planted trees, added pollinator gardens, changed habits, and helped to remove plastic debris from the Cuyahoga River. 

Besides these efforts, the team is also aware of the environmental disparities in the area that more greatly impact lower-income and minority communities. They want to do something together to address the issues that affect “the least of these.”

Momentum and inspiration builds when we work collaboratively around a common cause. Here are some other ideas for ways your church could work alongside other churches in your community:

  • Join forces to create community gardens and green spaces
  • Offer educational programs to raise awareness about creation care issues and the theological basis for environmental stewardship
  • Develop join recycling programs for the community to encourage responsible waste management practices
  • Combine efforts to make churches more energy-efficient, like going in together on solar power
  • Advocate for local policies that improve the lives of the less fortunate and promote healthy communities for all
  • Organize community clean-up events to address local environmental issues and beautify public spaces
  • Or, for something completely different and fun, make the third Sunday of the month Creation Care Commuting Day, like East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church, and encourage all churches in your area to walk, bicycle, or carpool together with other households

Caring for creation is not just some frightening imperative rooted in fear for the future. Instead, creation care ought to be rooted in abundant joy! We are members of Christ’s body, participants and co-creators, here to help usher in a New Creation. We get to influence the future of this bright and beautiful world. Let’s do so with joy, with hope, and united in Christ’s love.

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