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2 churches seek to promote racial unity through combining services

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In an effort to promote racial unity in the community and the Christian world, two local churches held a biracial service Sunday morning.

The morning began with a choir practice before the sermon, with hymns filling the rooms of Metropolitan United Methodist Church on Broad Street.

Guests of the predominantly black Metropolitan UMC and predominantly white Trinity UMC also joined the choirs and congregations in song.

“Trinity and Metro­politan have a long history together,” said Trinity Associate Pastor Jon­athan Lawson, adding that they are “sister churches.”

Sunday was World Com­munion Day, Lawson told the congregation — a day to emphasize unity and oneness in the world.

The two churches chose to get together and hear the sermon “How to neighbor,” Lawson said before the service.

The gathering had long been planned, he noted, but recent clashes of racial violence across the nation drew the congregations even closer together.

Jaime Hodges and her 8-year-old daughter Courtney Hodges have been attending Metro­politan for about a year. She said it was important for the churches to come together without racial biases and lead the community by example.

“It’s something that we need to see more of,” Hodges continued.

Cindy Latimer, a member of Trinity for about 60 years, said the shared service was also important for the congregants as Christians.

“Until you get to know someone, you may have doubts,” Latimer said. “But when they become your neighbor and your friends, they become your brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Metropolitan’s associate minister Wendy Owens summed up the importance of the sermon.

“What the community is going through right now, what is going on in our world right now — we as people of color, both black and white, need to learn how to get together,” Owens said.

“It starts in the church,” she concluded. “If we can’t get together in the church, how do we expect for people out there in the streets to be together? We’ve got to merge together and be a team; that way they can see us.”