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Leaders hope Christianity forum bridges denominational gaps
Event set for Aug. 12 at Grace Episcopal Church
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Christianity Beyond the Catchphrases

When: 6 p.m. Aug. 12

Where: Grace Episcopal Church, 422 Brenau Ave., Gainesville

A forum scheduled for Aug. 12 at Grace Episcopal Church takes aim at defining Christianity, “beyond the catchphrases.”

The product of discussion between local Christian leaders, the event is hoped to be a “launching point for a series of conversations around the richness of different denominations,” said Father Stuart Higginbotham of Grace Episcopal Church.

“We have the opportunity to explore what I see as a trans-denominational community partnership in Gainesville,” Higginbotham said, adding that the Rev. Bill Coates, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Gainesville, has been instrumental “in encouraging this.”

Coates said the idea came about because “we thought we could learn a lot from each other about how each denomination operates ... because, we may do things very differently but there is a oneness in who we are.”

Coates added that the timing for this forum — featuring Coates, Higginbotham and the leaders of eight other area churches — is appropriate.

“There are so many different issues facing us today,” Coates said. “Some have a sense of urgency about them.

There are issues of race, like the Confederate flag matter. There are matters we can discuss in this forum and better understand one another.”

Higginbotham agreed. He said the hope is that each spiritual leader can reach beyond the catchphrases of “liberal, conservative, Bible-based and so on” to have a dialogue.

“How can we come together and listen to each other, recognizing that our denominations approach scripture differently — although all see it as God’s Word?” Higginbotham said. “I think there is much more richness in a dialogue of diversity than in a continuation of ignorance over the rich traditions each of us have inherited.”

The public is invited to attend the forum, “Christianity Beyond the Catchphrases.” The event begins at 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at Grace Episcopal Church, 422 Brenau Ave., Gainesville.

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