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The main sanctuary and two overflow rooms of the East Baltimore Church of Christ were packed during the monthly song service that recently brought together 22 congregations from the Mid-Atlantic area.
Perspective
Photo by Hamil Harris

‘What a fellowship, what a joy divine’

Baltimore-area song service blesses reporter and minister after years of virtual worship.

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BALTIMORE — The main sanctuary and two overflow rooms of the East Baltimore Church of Christ were packed during the monthly song service that recently brought together 22 congregations from the Mid-Atlantic area. Several hundred people from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia attended.

After three years of preaching and having church over Zoom, being in the service with my daughter, her grandmother and many old friends was sweeter than the cupcakes the host church prepared to go with the fried chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans minister Kevin Bethea and others served to guests.


Related: After COVID-19, new opportunities for fellowship


En route to Baltimore, we had passed the Francis Scott Key Bridge as we entered the tunnel under the Baltimore Harbor. Two days later, a ship collided with the bridge and sent it crashing into the Patapsco River, killing six road workers.

Many song leaders participated in the service, including Chris Turner, minister at Sunset Road Church of Christ in Burlington, N.J., who led “Let the Spirit of the Lord Fall Upon Us.”

Chris Turner, minister at Sunset Road Church of Christ in Burlington, N.J., led “Let the Spirit of the Lord Fall Upon Us” at a recent Mid-Atlantic gathering.

Chris Turner, minister at Sunset Road Church of Christ in Burlington, N.J., led “Let the Spirit of the Lord Fall Upon Us” at a recent Mid-Atlantic gathering.

This was truly an Acts 2:42 moment:They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

I sat next to Tony Goodman, a gifted singer and minister at the Capital Church of Christ in Annapolis, Md., and in front of Ed Maxwell, minister of the Clinton Church of Christ, also in Maryland, who is chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Fellowship. Maxwell told those present that the goal of the service was “Building Towers of Unity.”

“The event’s focus is on the whole and not me or you, but to cultivate oneness. Oneness harnesses power. The singing allows many to harness the power of one.”

“The event’s focus is on the whole and not me or you, but to cultivate oneness,” he said. “Oneness harnesses power. The singing allows many to harness the power of one.”

Frequently, when I attend Church of Christ events, it’s as a reporter for The Christian Chronicle or another outlet. This time it was a blessing to sit and sing bass with many of the brothers.

The main sanctuary and two overflow rooms of the East Baltimore Church of Christ were packed during the monthly song service that recently brought together 22 congregations from the Mid-Atlantic area.

The main sanctuary and two overflow rooms of the East Baltimore Church of Christ were packed during the monthly song service that recently brought together 22 congregations from the Mid-Atlantic area.

I have a hard time standing since having a big toe amputated last year. So it was encouraging when three ministers helped me rise with the others in response to brother Douglas Anthony Goodman’s request that all the ministers stand so he could offer a special prayer on our behalf.

“We always try to unite the fellowship,” Goodman said in an interview. “We do that by showing unity among the preachers. We not only pray for the preachers, but we give them the charge that Paul gave to Timothy to refresh our memory to preach.”

Goodman’s joy was tempered by the loss of Clinton Miles, an assistant minister from the Central Church of Christ who passed away less than a month earlier.

“We all lost a soldier,” said Goodman, who was preaching at the Central congregation for minister Willie Rupert, who was recovering from a recent illness. The church also has a planned gospel meeting featuring three ministers.

East Baltimore Church-Christ, Belair Road, Nottingham, MD, USA

In times like these, we must remember Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

HAMIL R. HARRIS is a Christian Chronicle correspondent and a veteran journalist who spent two decades with the Washington Post. He preaches regularly for the Glenarden Church of Christ in Maryland.

Filed under: Baltimore congregational singing fellowship Francis Scott Key Bridge Mid-Atlantic Fellowship Opinion Perspective Post-Pandemic Church Top Stories

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