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St. Louis-area ministers tout unity in Jesus Christ

Areawide service emphasizes 'need to love each other and let God work on our hearts.'

About 200 members of St. Louis-area congregations praised God at a recent unity service hosted by the Centreville Church of Christ, across the state line in Illinois.

Ralph P. Smith Sr., the Centreville church’s minister for 45 years, delivered a heartfelt message on unity from Ephesians 4, said Conley Gibbs Jr., who preaches for the Gateway Community Church of Christ in St. Louis.

Ralph P. Smith Sr.

Ralph P. Smith Sr.

“In addition, there was singing, praying and great fellowship,” Gibbs said. “All the ministers joined hands in one accord. Many members stated … that this was one of the most moving collective endeavors in years.”

Thomas Owens, a Centreville elder, said his congregation enjoyed the opportunity “to promote reconciliation and unity in our area.”

The joint assembly was a wonderful way to start a new year, said Nathaniel Cobb, minister for the Buckmaster Lane Church of Christ in Alton, Ill., and the Logan Street Church of Christ in Madison, Ill. 

“Emphasizing unity and endeavoring to keep the unity — that’s what we’ve been doing and practicing,” Cobb said. “We’re hoping that it would reach other congregations and encourage efforts in their area.”

Loving one another, he added, promotes the cause of Christ.

Gibbs agreed: “Sometimes we have differences. We have different perspectives, and we can’t always see eye to eye. But we just need to love each other and let God work on our hearts.”

In April, St. Louis-area congregations will host the 75th annual Church of Christ National Lectureship.

Ministers showing their unity are, from left, Christopher Mitchell, Conley Gibbs Jr., Leon Cobb, Roy Morgan, Rodney Weekly, Christopher Williams and Marvin Johnson.

Ministers showing their unity are, from left, Christopher Mitchell, Conley Gibbs Jr., Leon Cobb, Roy Morgan, Rodney Weekly, Christopher Williams and Marvin Johnson.

In preparation for the lectureship — the premier annual event among African-American Churches of Christ — area leaders “want to make sure we are coming together as we are trying to bring people together,” Gibbs said. “We want to be an example across the country of what love and unity are all about.”

“We have different perspectives, and we can’t always see eye to eye. But we just need to love each other and let God work on our hearts.”

While the recent service involved predominantly black churches, the Centreville congregation has a regular fifth Sunday fellowship with the Fairview Heights Church of Christ, a predominantly white Illinois congregation. That fellowship is just one example of unity efforts across racial lines, area church leaders said.

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