Saturday, April 1, 2017
We live in a time where the process of reconciliation is becoming more difficult to achieve.
Our national political leaders can’t seem to reconcile their differences to govern our country.
The road to reconciliation between rival gangs in Chicago appears intractable, as the murder rate in that city continues rising.
And some parts of the country continue struggling toward reconciling differences that have resulted in unarmed black men being gunned down by white police officers.
Maybe it’s time to study the work of the person Christians believe is the world’s greatest reconciler: Jesus Christ.
Kingdom Arise, in partnership with NOW Youngstown and churches throughout the Mahoning Valley, will gather to celebrate “Meet Me At the Cross” on April 14, which is Good Friday, at the Covelli Centre on Front Street in downtown Youngstown.
Other religious organizations endorsing the event are the Steel Valley Baptist Association, Assemblies of God, Evangelical Ministers’ Fellowship of Warren and Rally in the Valley.
Doors open at 6 p.m., and the service, which will be from 7 to 9, will allow area churches, ministries, clergy and guests to celebrate the passionate and compassionate love of Christ that was demonstrated in his crucifixion.
The free event will feature a community worship team and choir as well as a community children’s choir. There will be interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing and Spanish interpretation.
Bishop Joseph Garlington – a leader of the Promise Keepers evangelical Christian men’s movement and pastor of Covenant Church of Pittsburgh – is the guest speaker. He pastors a multiracial and cross-cultural community of more than 3,000 members, which he founded in 1971.
He is married to Barbara Williams Garlington, and together, they share responsibility for seven children, 13 grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and a great-grandson.
My good friend, the Rev. Gary L. Frost, former pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church on the city’s East Side, says the name “Meet Me At The Cross” was chosen because it speaks of “calling together Christians throughout the region to celebrate the hope that is found in Christ Jesus.”
“In a social atmosphere of increased interpersonal tension, we believe the message of the cross provides the pathway to the reconciliation desperately needed in our community and our nation,” he said in an email to me. “The message of forgiveness demonstrated on the cross has the potential to remedy the racial, political and cultural strife that is devastating our nation.”
Joining the Rev. Mr. Frost as event co-chairman and host is Bishop David L. Thomas of Victory Christian Center in Coitsville. I have known Bishop Thomas for at least two decades. He has preached the good news of Christ in 26 nations and is president of Victory School of Ministry.
They are praying the gathering will be another step in a movement that will bring true biblical reconciliation and genuine unity to our community.
In a letter to the leaders of area churches, Mr. Frost and Bishop Thomas wrote, “We believe that when Jesus Christ sacrificed His life on Calvary’s cross it was the greatest demonstration of reconciliation the world has ever known.
“We are inviting Christ followers from all over this region to gather on Good Friday 2017 to celebrate our oneness in Christ and unashamedly acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and king. We may differ on some things, but we agree that Jesus is the Son of God, and He is the only eternal hope for our community, our nation and our world.”
According to the Meet Me at the Cross website, others involved in the event are Dr. Alton L. Merrell Jr., a minister of worship, pianist, composer and educator, who serves as the director of worship ministries at Allegheny Center Alliance Church in Pittsburgh; Janet Write, a retired educator from the Youngstown City School District who serves as music director at New Bethel Baptist Church on the city’s South Side; the Rev. Dan Barker, senior pastor of Cortland Trinity Baptist Church since 1986; and Juan Santiago, who serves on the boards for Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and Kingdom Arise and has led a nonprofit ministry called Professionals Partnering with Christ.
I know several churches have Passion plays on Good Friday, but if your fellowship does not have one, this event certainly seems worth your time.
You can find out more by going to www.meetmeatthecross.us and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or contacting Mr. Frost at 917-817-6287, Bishop Thomas at 330-536-2127 or Pastor Al Yanno of Metro Assembly of God Church at 330-519-0470.
Also, the Covelli will host the annual Men’s Rally in the Valley on April 29. You will be reading more about the event that attracts thousands of Christian men from throughout the Mahoning and Shenango valleys in The Vindicator on Sunday.
Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org