Kelly Steinhaus, Boston-based missionary and UniteBoston Director of Operations, shares her experience at the Cambridge Unity Service on New Years Day and her passion for unity in Boston.
On January 1, 2012, sixteen churches in Cambridge and over 800 people gathered to worship the name of Jesus at First Baptist Church in Central Square. This was the first time in city history that sixteen different congregations representing various Christian denominations have come together for a single Sunday morning worship service.
The diversity of the Kingdom of God in Cambridge
Bishop Brian Greene of Pentecostal Tabernacle played an instrumental role in organizing this gathering. He believes that “Revival cannot, come, unless the church is one.” I echo his belief, and the presence of God that filled the room was one of the closest things to revival that I have experienced. At 11:00am, people of all denominations and cultures kept streaming in the door to worship Jesus, until there was no more seats, and then barely any standing room. I was ushering at the service, but we all agreed that this was a good problem for us to have. We even had to bring in TV monitors so people could watch the service in the lobby..Pentecostal Tabernacle’s choir led us in worship as they sang chords which rang with heaven’s sounds. Denominations, cultures, church identity fell to the wayside as we worshipped our one true God, Jesus Christ, together with one voice. It made me think of Revelation 7:9, where it describes heaven as “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Words honestly cannot describe this gathering, so I recorded the video above so everyone could see and experience it.
In some cultural and denominational backgrounds, there is a particular emphasis on the pastor’s first sermon in the new year. Congregation members wait in anticipation to hear what will be “The Word of the Lord” for that coming year. I personally inspired by the message that Pastor Larry Ward of Abundant Life Church shared on how we can seek the peace of our city – with prayer, equipping, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, and educating the next generation. But even more than that, I sensed how powerful it was for the churches in our region to have a collective vision to bring us into the new year.
Yes, God says that He commands a special blessing in unity (Psalm 133) – and every single person I talked to after the service said something to the effect of, “That was really cool.” My friend and fellow ministry worker Ralph Kee asserted, “the many components of today’s service displayed hopes being fulfilled that I’ve had for Cambridge (and all of Greater Boston) for 40 years,” and he believes this is a sign that 2012 will be the most productive year in our lifetimes for the gospel in our city.
Above all else, I came away with the sense that, “This is the way it’s supposed to be.” As the Church, each part of the body has a unique function, but we also must have opportunities to come together and remember that we are part of something larger. I see this type of regional worship gatherings becoming more and more common in the coming seasons and years. Jesus’ dying prayer is that the church would be one, ”in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23, AMP) Gatherings like this – shared experiences that we have together as the body – break down the denominational and cultural walls and allow us to be the Church that God designed us to be.
Participating Congregations: A Place to Heal Ministries, Abundant Life Church, Bethel Assemblies of God, Calvary Praise & Worship Center, Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, Cambridge Church of the Nazarene, Cambridgeport Baptist Church, Christian Mission Holiness Church, First Baptist Church, First Holiness Church, Pentecostal Tabernacle, Journey Church, RUSH AME Zion Church, Spirit of Power Living Word Ministries, International Union Baptist Church