Unity in the Community! Red, Yellow, Black and White All Precious in HIS sight: Pensacola’s West Side Story
We have guests joining us today that have a call to unify the Church! Pastor Ron Lentine, with Myrtle Grove Baptist Church, Dr. James Miller, pastor of First Baptist Church of Warrington, and Pastor Riley Richardson with Myrtle Grove United Methodist Church. They share some great wisdom on how we can all be unified within our communities no matter our background or denomination.
Pastor Lentine starts the conversation and talks about how the Unity in the Community movement started in Pensacola, Florida. “There is a new thing the Lord is doing, a movement that is undoubtedly of God.”
We have a brief history of this movement and how it started. “This movement began in 2016 during the very heated and mean-spirited presidential election. As I witnessed the riots in cities across the nation and the division that was taking place in our nation culturally, racially, and politically I was deeply troubled in my spirit. I was convinced that there was no hope for our country outside of a spiritual awakening within the body of Christ. I was moved to action following the shooting of the police in Dallas, Texas. It was that event that prompted me to call my good friend, Dr. James Miller, a respected African American pastor of First Baptist Church of Warrington. I said to him, “Brother James, we need to do something. We may not be able to affect any change in Washington, DC, but we can make a difference in our own neighborhood.” So, the following day we brought our churches together during our Sunday night service…That night we celebrated and discussed the unity we have as family through our Lord Jesus Christ. Following that event, we reached out to other pastors in our community of different denominations, races, and cultures. Before long nine other church families within our… communities were onboard in our effort to build real Christian fellowship while we lifted up our Lord Jesus as the real source of unity and change and the only answer for our nation. As the months went by, we continued to meet every two to three months in different churches. The pastors would preach at these gathering meetings and the choirs and praise teams of the different churches would provide music. A great spirit of love and unity was building stronger with every gathering event that took place. In December of 2016 an idea came to my mind of the possibility of a unity march and rally down the main street of our neighborhood with people of every race and every culture walking side by side celebrating the transforming power of the gospel that unites us together. As I shared this vision with all of our unity churches everybody supported the idea. We set a date and began planning for what we believed would be an historical event in our community. Little did we know just how historical and wonderful this “Unity in Our Community” March and Rally would become.”
Jesus prayed for believers that we would be unified!
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One— I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” John 17:20-23
This unity movement is saying that God loves us as much as He loves Jesus! Pastor Lentine continues to share how as the Church is unified, we will show the world the truth of the Gospel just by them seeing our unity and love. “It struck me in my mind, the reason why the Church has lost its prophetic voice is because the body of Christ, with few exceptions, of course, are just as divided…so lost people out there have been looking at the Church and saying why should we listen to your message?”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” This generation is looking at the Church and seeing as much division as there is in the world today! Pastor Lentine shares next, “I think to regain a prophetic voice, the vision that God has given me, is that we need to unite around the Gospel. We have many differences beyond the Gospel, between Methodist, Baptist, independent churches, Pentecostal. There may be theological issues outside the Gospel we disagree on but to become a believer you have to believe in the Gospel.”
Dr. Miller, who also was the first African America police chief in Foley, Alabama, shares what is on his heart next. When Pastor Lentine first called him, he said it was a wow moment as their hearts connected on the unity movement. “We knew this was about God. This was much larger than we were, we both left that moment with the prayer that God would take it further.” He talks about how leadership in the Church needs to be unified and not divided because until that happens, there will not be unity in the Church.
Dr. Miller shares how they brought in Pastor Richardson next and that the three of them can bridge this gap together! This is just about the church working together for one common goal.
Pastor Richardson speaks next of how he got involved in the unity movement. He had a wow moment just like Dr. Miller when he heard about this movement. “The first two or three years of being a pastor there (Myrtle Grove), I was looking for a way to get the Church connected, now we were involved in mission and ministry in the community, but really getting our people in the pews doing ministry outside of the doors of the Church. Connecting with the needs of the community.”
He continues to share how as Pastor Lentine shared with him the vision of the unity movement he knew that this was something that he was to be a part of. “I’ve always believed that there’s more that unites us than it is that divides us. And that if we focus in on one message and that is the message of the cross, that all can come to know Christ and be saved. And allow Holy Spirit to live and work through us becoming the Body of Christ and becoming one…our love for one another will then make a difference in the community.”
Pastor Richardson continues to speak on how there was once a huge revival on the Gulf Coast, the Brownsville Revival, “I believe that this (unity movement) can have that impact, not just in the Pensacola area, but worldwide. As people can see men and women of God coming together around one central message, and that’s Jesus.”
Many believers want to know how to please God and unity is how we please Him!
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
Greg shares that God showed him confirmation of this unity movement through a dream. They were at a large gathering with diverse people of all ethnicities. Greg and Pastor Lentine were at the front of the gathering and said let’s pray. So, they faced the wall and prayed as soon as they did that the glory of God filled that place. Throughout the crowd people were touched by the glory of God. God showed Greg specifically that Pastor Lentine is called to do this and is anointed for it as he invites Holy Spirit that He will come in and will bring His glory.
Pastor Lentine shares that we need to fast and pray for the will of God for our lives specifically. Catch a vision from all that has been shared so that you can start a unity movement in your community as well! What is God saying to you about this? We want to hear from you! Write to us at [email protected]. Maybe you have already started a unity movement in your community, let us know about that! Be sure to listen or watch the full segment to hear much more.