A Repost from today’s local newspaper!
In May 2010, I wrote my very first article for Northumberland Today. It was given the heading Great Things Can Be Accomplished If We Work Together. I confess that at the time of that article being published, the reality of several different church denominations and other Christian community groups coming together for the same cause seemed more like a veritable “pipe dream” than a possible reality.
Yet, today as you read these words something truly remarkable has taken place within the town of Cobourg, and I feel so honoured to have been able to play even a small role in this great expression of unity.
Just over six weeks ago, five churches in our community (Calvary Baptist, Church on the Hill, Cobourg Alliance, Fellowship Baptist, and The Salvation Army), began a pulpit exchange, where for five consecutive Sundays, the pastors from each congregation took turns visiting each other’s churches to present the sermon. I’m not sure any of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into when this series entitled “Better Together” began, but very quickly we learned that what we were doing was much bigger than anything we had ever dreamed.
Speaking from just my own experience, it was so refreshing to truly sense denominational and theological barriers being put aside in the interest of unity, and to witness the many similarities that each church shares with my own. Yet it really was the differences in expressions of worship, the various uses (or non-use) of the sacraments, and the different ways that people accepted what I was offering through my teaching that I found so beneficial, both educationally and spiritually. But what was truly remarkable for me was the impact that this exchange would have not just on the members of each of these five churches but also upon the community in which we live.
What began to take place during this time frame was what I like to call a “melting of our hearts” for those members of our community that are in need, and a great reminder of the greatest commandments to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” And to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)
While there are many ways that we can put these words into action in our community, the five aforementioned church pastors, along with the prayerful support of community groups like UCB Canada and Northumberland Youth For Christ, and the financial support of other churches in our area, partnered with Habitat For Humanity Northumberland to complete a Faith Build in our community. Essentially the goal was to raise $60,000.00 and then provide the manual labour to build a home as a “hand up” for a family in need of this type of support.
On Good Friday, these groups gathered together at the Best Western Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre to first and foremost reflect and acknowledge the significance of this day in the Christian calendar, but also to take up an offering that we hoped would offset at least a portion of the costs associated with this Faith Build. The result was an amazing $57,851.59 given in love and left many of us stunned once again at the Blessings of God. Today (April 5), the groundbreaking for this project is taking place on Alexandria Drive, and we already know that it will be a huge success for great things can happen when God’s people work together!
Capt. Sheldon R. Bungay, The Salvation Army Cobourg Community Church