In the past two weeks in Farmville there has been a lot of worshiping and large group meal preparation going on. Volunteers from First Baptist, First Christian, Farmville United Methodist, Farmville Presbyterian and Marlboro Original Free Will Baptist Church took turns serving meals for youth on a mission with The Refuge. For two nights the public was invited to worship at The Farmville Community Arts Council and to be part of “Small Town Erasing the Lines.” These lines were racial, socioeconomic and denominational.
Friendship Free Will Baptist Church welcomed with T-shirts, CD’s, tables of food and open arms all who would come for dinner, music and biblical teaching for five nights at “Worship Under the Son.” There were adults, youth and children from such a variety of churches that it was like a breath of fresh air.
One of the best things about the faith community in Farmville historically has been the way our churches work together. Four churches have a joint Vacation Bible School and more than that are involved in Farmville Benevolent Ministries and the Community Outreach Soup Kitchen. All ministers have been invited to be a part of the Ministerial Association. A key to people from very different denominations cooperating and accomplishing good things has been the understanding that we all have the same ultimate purpose. We are promoting the Kingdom of God more than our individual churches. We recognize that our denominations do not define us. Our faith in Christ defines us. The majority of church-goers today are more interested in or connected to the local church rather than the national body. It is quite possible that our denomination does not represent well where we are theologically but the local church might reflect our beliefs more closely. It is also possible that the local church does not reflect well what we believe but we have chosen to worship and serve there for other reasons. Rarely is there complete uniformity of thinking in any denomination so we should not assume we know what individuals believe simply because they are part of a certain congregation. (A year ago in a most lively and interesting discussion Alex and Brooks Oakley turned my assumptions about core Baptist theology completely upside down. That was a good reminder that labels or generalizations can be inaccurate.)
At our worship with The Refuge Wes Thomas spoke of his desire for revival in Farmville. This will be brought about only by a work of the Holy Spirit and will start with Christians coming before God in humility. Revival may or may not begin within the walls of a church but it certainly will not be limited to one place. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) At the old Paramount Theater we sang together a wonderful Rend Collective song which describes our hope for Farmville. “We seek your kingdom first. We hunger and we thirst. Refuse to waste our lives for you’re our joy and prize. To see the captive hearts released. The hurt, the sick, the poor at peace. We lay down our lives for heaven’s cause. We are your church. We pray: revive this earth.”