When two pastors became close friends in Denver, Colorado, United States, they decided to bring their churches together in a joint worship service.
Aware of COVID-19 pandemic regulations, the attending believers registered ahead for the worship service. More than 300 of them from Littleton and Denver Park Hill churches gathered on the Mile High Academy sports field on Saturday (Sabbath), October 3, 2020.
The church service bulletin explained the reason for the gathering. Pastors Andy Nash, Chris Morris, and Alise Weber from Littleton church and Kelby “Mac” McCottry from the Denver Park Hill congregation talked with their church leaders about a joint service and “the response to the idea was overwhelming among all ages. If our Savior Jesus Christ prayed for us to be together, and if we’ll be together in heaven, why shouldn’t we be [together] on earth?” they asked.
Many congregants sported “Together, John 17:23” t-shirts, distributed to registered worshipers, and you would have had no problem witnessing the joy on their faces, a mosaic of ethnicities worshiping together.
The worship featured a 20-minute sermon by each pastor, their theme based on 2 Timothy 1:1-14. Each congregant received a booklet provided at no cost by Thomas Nelson Bibles. “When Thomas Nelson heard about our event today, they immediately said they wanted to be a sponsor,” Nash informed the congregation.
A livestream of the event began with a welcome message by Ed Barnett and Roger Bernard, the presidents of Rocky Mountain Conference and Central States Conference, respectively. They expressed their joy at seeing believers from both territories of the Seventh-day Adventist Church come together.
“Our Littleton church joining with the Denver Park Hill church from the Central States Conference and meeting at Mile High Academy for all-day services was fabulous,” Barnett commented.
“I felt bad that I was out of town and not able to join the celebration. Having heard comments from several of our members, I would say that it was a tremendous day. Praise God for the camaraderie between our brothers and sisters from two different conferences and ethnic backgrounds ministering in the same territory. Truly a picture of what heaven will look like,” he added.
This was long overdue, several church members commented. “It’s up to us not to do it symbolically only, but also to cooperate in joint projects. We are neighbors, serving our community in Denver, aren’t we?” George Pelote, stewardship director of the Park Hill church, commented.
Among the most welcome outcomes of coming together to worship was the feeling of being like a family, a community in need of camaraderie. It was not difficult to meet students from the school, past and present. Among them were two former students, James Harris from Park Hill and Kyla Dixon, a member of the Littleton church.
Harris commented that it was nice fellowshipping outside with everybody. The area churches should also come together in the future, he said. “I know Park Hill has been on its own, and it’s nice to see [us] coming together with everybody as well,” he said.
Dixon agreed. “It was awesome meeting everybody and intermingling, meeting new faces. It was pretty cool,” she shared.
The gathering of fellow Christians exceeded the expectations of both of the pastor friends. Following the Sabbath service, they shared their personal comments. McCottry commented: “Oh, yes. Way more. Way more. Just to see people coming, worshipping and fellowshipping together, regardless of membership, regardless of color of skin. This is what I wanted to see.” Nash said that the days of preparation were worth the effort and shared what many people said most: “We should do this more. Why haven’t we done this more?” “This began out of friendship for Pastor Mac and me, and now we see other friendships forming. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.”
As pastors, they recognize a need to encourage and bring people together, not just for one worship event.
“God brought us together for such a time as this,” McCottry said. “To see what’s happening in the world, in the United States, but to know that we can be a model, that we can still love each other. We may worship in different places and may have different preferences and styles, but we are still God’s children together. The whole purpose was [coming together] to show that this is how it can be. This is how it’s going to be in heaven, so let’s do it now.”
Nash said he believes that what they did together could be done elsewhere in the church. “People are desperate for something to be hopeful and positive about. What’s missing in many of the conversations in our country is Christ. As humans, we cannot solve problems, but in Christ, there is, as we said today, there is dunamis, dynamite, and power in Him, as we look to Him together.”
The day continued with a picnic lunch, followed by a shared service project, packing food boxes, and ended with a favorite food — s’mores (chocolate, melted marshmallow, and Graham crackers in a sandwich). “We will have vespers, along with s’mores, glowsticks, and a huge Capture the Flag game, which I think should be kids versus adults. Timothy versus Paul,” Nash announced. More than 100 believers accepted his invitation.