Two Hancock County churches merge to promote racial unity

Two Hancock County churches merge to promote racial unity

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Two Hancock County churches merged as one on Sunday in hopes of bridging a racial divide.

Many of the members at Shoreline Baptist Church are white, but this Sunday, the congregation that filled the pews looked much different.

That’s because mixed among them were visitors from First Missionary Baptist Church. All of them were black. First Missionary’s pastor the Rev. Allen Jenkins developed the idea of this “drop-in fellowship.”

“Considering how divided our country is, divided politically, oftentimes racially as well, we thought it would be a great idea that a unity would begin in the body of Christ," he said.

He reached out to Shoreline pastor Barry Ginn, a man who he had never met but who was willing to jump on board.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to come together under one roof and worship together," Ginn said.

In 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called 11 o’clock on Sunday mornings the most segregated hour in America. More than five decades later, not much has changed. Researchers say only 2 in 10 Americans attend a church with an integrated congregation.

These two pastors said it’s time for that to change and hope to send a message to other churches.

“Even though the country is divided on a lot of issues, that we can come together as one race and unite together and worship together, and not only worship together, but fellowship together outside the church," Ginn said.

“Both of us are hoping that this idea will spread, and there will be more congregations to get together and, of course, help us repair the division that’s among us throughout the nation," Jenkins said.

Though the two churches are racially distinct, Sunday was proof that by spiritually coming together as one, they can tear down walls.

Sunday’s service also coincided with Shoreline Baptist’s appreciation service for first responders and elected officials.

Jenkins said he plans to have three more of these drop in fellowships.

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