Two Birmingham churches — one majority black, the other majority white — are coming together this weekend to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by fostering friendships between the members of their congregations.
Dr. King once said “Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of Christian America.” Reverend James Sutton and Reverend Steven Castello, the leaders of Ardent Church and Holy Trinity World Outreach Ministry, are determined to change that.
Ardent Church and Holy Trinity World Outreach host a joint worship service on Sunday at Holy Trinity Church, followed by a day of community service on Monday.
When Rev. Castello and Rev. Sutton met two years ago, the pastors quickly became good friends. They discovered that they had similar interpretations of Christianity, particularly in regards to human relationships and peace.
Their idea for Sunday’s joint worship service was inspired by what Rev. Sutton calls a “perfect storm” of exposed racial tension following recent protests in response to the killings of unarmed black men by police officers, along with the release of the movie Selma.
“We are doing this (coming together) as a pre-emptive strike for racial healing in case something like Ferguson or Staten Island happens here in Birmingham,” says Rev. Sutton. “Many of the stereotypes that exists in black hearts and white hearts are there because of a lack of a relationship. And stereotypes gone unchecked and unchallenged create situations like Ferguson.”
According to Rev. Sutton, Birmingham’s history makes it the perfect place to work to foster understanding between people from all races and walks of life.
“We want to bring these people (the members of their congregations) together to worship under one roof in order to give them an idea of what heaven will really be like, diverse and inclusive,” says Sutton. “Although we worship at different places, we worship the same God and have the same savior.”