Diversity finds common ground in ‘ONE’

By Joyce Godwin

Herald Democrat

It started with just a few individuals, and over the years swelled to more than 30 participants, and the number continues to grow.

They meet weekly in the Sherman area to pray — for the county, for the country, area youth, their individual churches and each other. They come from Grayson, Cooke and Fannin counties, and a few from even further — from multiple denominations with a desire to break down the walls built through differences in denominations, race and other separators.

They decided to concentrate on what they had in common and not what separated them, and out of that desire of unity was born a new movement — ONE.

The pastor in each of the 30-plus churches began Jan. 30 speaking on the same subjects, and the campaign will end Feb. 17. Last week was “One Voice.” This week is to be “One Hope,” and next week will be “One in Service.” Each pastor writes his own sermon, but they all are following the same subjects. The desire is to have congregations across North Texas to follow the same path; praying together and for each other while serving the community and supporting one another as ONE church with many congregations.

The pastors diligently meet on Thursday morning for their own prayer service. They begin with a little bit of business and encouragement about the program. Bills have to be paid for advertising costs of billboards, bumper stickers and other promotional materials. Sherman Bible Church Pastor Dennis Henderson said he heard some negative remarks about the One Church program. He said one person had accused that the group is trying to be a one-world church for a one-world government, and the room broke out in laughter because they all know that is far from the truth of the matter.

“It’s about finding the lost,” he said. “It’s about the Gospel.”

The group went on to look at a few Bible verses before breaking into small prayer groups.

“If all we’ve done is meet for coffee and prayer and fellowship and we do nothing else, we’ve missed the whole point,” Henderson shared with the group. “It’s about the Gospel. We want to be praying for God to show us the next step in proclaiming the Gospel. There are 400,000 people in the Texoma area, and what we need is a witness. When we come out of this in about three weeks, we don’t want to just say ‘It’s over.’ We want to be ready to move to the next step.”

Josh Grammon from Legacy Bible Church in Sherman led the male voices along with three women in a traditional hymn “Jesus Paid It All.” Then the serious prayer began. Grammon finished the meeting leading the group in a more contemporary hymn, “How Great Is Our God.”

C.D. Ballard from Sherman’s Liberty Lighthouse Church said the group had been praying for four years before they felt let to move ahead with the ONE program, and the prayer continues.

Rene Menjivar, pastor for Iglesia Evangelica Filadelfia in Sherman, said the Thursday meetings have been uplifting for him, and something he looks forward to each week. He added that the fellowship he has with the other pastors is something he didn’t have before. “We all work together for the same purpose,” he said.

Mike Ball, pastor at A Christian Fellowship in Luella, said he is inspired after being with the group on Thursdays. Mark Wyatt, pastor for Community Bible Church in Van Alstyne, said he heard about the pastor’s meeting and decided to check it out to see what is going on there and he’s still there. Wyatt, along with the other pastors, is also following the sermon plan for this five-week program.

“It’s amazing to see us come together, now, and emphasize what we all believe instead of concentrating on our differences in worship styles and doctrines,” said Pastor Stan McNutt from Liberty Lighthouse. “How often are you going to see 30 plus churches from different denominations join together in spirit for the same purpose — reaching the lost and promoting the Gospel. We are all followers of Jesus Christ.”

From the ONE booklet the explanation is, “Differences do not divide us. We recognize and respect our differences, but we all agree that there is one body, one faith, one Lord, one Spirit, one God and Father of all and in all who believe in Christ as Lord. We unite in this core truth. The movement has begun.”

Among other churches participating in ONE are Calvary Baptist of Bonham, Calvary Baptist of Denison, Church of the Resurrection in Sherman, Community Baptist in Sherman, Cottonwood Creek Baptist in Denison, Dayspring Christian Fellowship in Sherman, East Sherman Baptist, First Baptist of Pottsboro, First Hispanic Baptist of Jacksboro, Georgetown Baptist, Greater Harvest North of Sherman, Greater New Hope of Sherman, Hagerman Baptist, Harmony Baptist of Sherman, Harvest Time Assembly of Sherman, Iglesia Bautista Bethel of Gainesville, Iglesia Bautista Camino Real of Bonham, Iglesia Bautista Camino Real of Denison, Iglesia Bautista La Roca of Gunter, Iglesia Nueva Creacion of Denison, Joshua’s Crossing of Denison, Luella First Baptist, Primera Iglesia Bautista of Decatur, Primera Iglesia Bautista of Gainesville, Sherman Church of the Nazarene, Church at Park Manor in Sherman, Trinity Baptist of Sherman and Trinity Lighthouse of Denison.

For more information, go to churchesoftexoma.com The pastors’ meeting is open to others who might like to join in or just see what’s happening there. It starts at 8:30 a.m. at Sherman Bible Church and ends promptly at 9:30. Sherman Bible Church is in Sherman at 2515 West Lamberth Rd.