When the Rev. Adam Reynolds gets up to preach on Sunday evening, things will look a little different from where he is standing. That’s because he won’t be at his own church, Assembly of Praise, in Lula.
He’ll be at Lula’s Springfield Baptist Church — and not only will the location be different, the congregation will be, too.
Springfield Baptist Church is a predominantly-African American church while Assembly of Praise is predominantly white. The Assembly of Praise congregation is joining with Springfield Baptist and St. John Missionary Baptist Church, another predominantly-African American church, for a joint Thanksgiving service this Sunday.
“We live in an area that's somewhat racially divided,” said Reynolds, who’s been the pastor at Assembly of Praise for about a year.
The service is planned for 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18. Pastors at Springfield and St. John could not be reached by deadline.
Bringing people together for a common purpose — in this case, to worship — is important to combat the racial tension Reynolds said the country is feeling.
For these congregations, that’s what they believe.
“All you hear about is the division,” Reynolds said. “That's all that seems to make the news …You rarely hear about when everybody’s coming together and the lines come down and we’re just worshipping together.”
The joint Thanksgiving service has been something Assembly of Praise has been a part of for several years, and it’s actually where Reynolds got his start as pastor at the church. His first Sunday as pastor was at the joint Thanksgiving service in 2017.
He said he feels strongly about relaxing racial tension in his area, something he saw throughout his childhood growing up in Gainesville. He feels he has been given the opportunity to be a pastor for that specific reason.
“This is where color goes away,” Reynolds said. “This is where we have church together, we worship together and there’s no black, there’s no white, there’s no brown, there’s no yellow, there’s no red.
“We’re worshipping God.”
Each year, the location of the service rotates between the three churches and the pastor of the church that’s hosting never preaches at his own church. It used to be a bigger service — Reynolds expects about 100 in the congregation — but participation over the years has dwindled.
“From my understanding, years ago, it was several churches and it just kind of fell apart over the years,” Reynolds said. “It really became just these three churches that stayed.”
Even with fewer churches showing up and fewer people attending, the Thanksgiving service has been something Reynolds always been passionate about.
“It’s just to kind of tear down years and years and years of what people have been taught to believe versus what is actually, truly biblically true as far as race is concerned,” Reynolds said.
And of course, a Thanksgiving service at church wouldn’t be complete without a meal afterward. The churches will stay for a potluck dinner following the service, offering a chance for the entire congregation to come together and share a meal.
“Events like this are important,” Reynolds said. “We do live in a divided world, we do live in a divided country. Here in Georgia, we’re no less divided, if not more divided, than other parts of the country.
“It’s important that people look beyond the color of somebody’s skin and see the commonality. And the commonality with this group of people is that we worship the same God.”