More than a message

Published 4:48 pm Sunday, March 25, 2007

By Staff
It may be later in the year, but the Washington-Beaufort County Human Relations Council’s Pulpit Exchange is back on the calendar.
The event proved to be a big hit in February 2006 when 11 area churches allowed their pastors to swap pulpits with other preachers. So much so that other churches have expressed interest in taking part in this year’s Pulpit Exchange.
Human Relations Council members are convinced the Pulpit Exchange is a way to get church leaders involved in the council’s mission, which includes improving relations among different segments of the community.
Promoting better understanding of a community’s different segments is a good idea. Providing venues where that understanding can occur is a better idea. Churches participating in efforts to promote better understanding and providing venues for that to happen is an excellent response to those ideas.
Last year, the Rev. Dr. Jimmy Moore, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Washington, took the pulpit at San Mateo Episcopal Church in Yeatesville. An interpreter was needed to translate Moore’s English message into Spanish for the church’s Hispanic members. He talked about his favorite Bible story, the parable about four friends who took their paralyzed companion to Jesus to be healed.
Moore’s sermon is the message the Human Relations Council wants to send throughout Beaufort County.
Last year, at least one pastor didn’t wait until Pulpit Exchange Sunday to meet church members at the church she was assigned to. Faye Rouse, pastor of Chocowinity United Methodist Church, attended a midweek prayer meeting at Mount Hebron Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ) in Washington. That experience made her more at ease when it came time to deliver her sermon on Sunday, Rouse noted.
After she preached, she was the guest of honor at the Sunday dinner that followed the worship service. Sharing a worship experience and a plate of home-cooked food are excellent ways to learn about people who are so much like us yet so much different from us at the same time.
Broadening our understanding of one another doesn’t mean we will agree with everything someone else says, does or believes. But the more we talk and interact with people who have different beliefs or ways of doing things, the better we can understand why they do what they do and believe what they believe. That understanding can make it possible for us to work together to achieve common goals.
There’s more to the Pulpit Exchange than just churches swapping pastors for a day. The project facilitates the exchange and understanding of doctrines, traditions and cultural variations associated with worship services.
Come Aug. 19, the next Pulpit Exchange, instead of one congregation singing “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown” and another congregation singing “No, Not One;” perhaps those congregations will be singing “Let Us Break Bread Together.”