The Park, Covenant unite for joint celebration

Bishop Claude Alexander
Bishop Claude Alexander

Two large Charlotte churches will join with a Catholic diocese in Iraq this week to celebrate Good Friday.

For the first time, The Park Church, a primarily African-American congregation, and Covenant Presbyterian Church, a primarily white congregation, will hold a combined service. A short sermon will be live-streamed during the service from Bishop Matti Warda of St. Joseph Church in Iraq.

“The service is open to all and intends to be an important witness of Christian faith that brings hope and unity to our world,” said Bob Henderson, senior minister of Covenant Presbyterian.

The service will be held at The Park Church on Beatties Ford Road, and it will include sermons, music and prayer from all three congregations. Ministers will focus on raising consciousness of the suffering church in Middle East and honoring Jesus Christ’s suffering on the cross on Good Friday.

“We hope the service will bear witness to our own city and country of our common identity as God’s children, equal participants in God’s saving love, and that such witness will lead to healing of divisions and much needed reconciliation,” Henderson said.

The idea for the service came over lunch as Bishop Claude Alexander, Henderson and the Rev. Rodney Sadler of Union Presbyterian Seminary talked about how they could demonstrate God’s love that transcends all boundaries, Henderson said.

After discussing ideas such as joint service projects and studies, Alexander proposed the Good Friday worship service.

The two congregations had never worshipped together before, but some of their ministers have attended seminary together and some of their musicians have served together. Congregation members from the two churches also have worked together in professional settings.

Sadler had developed a relationship with Warda through his work with Arab Christians, Henderson said.

With the current issues of Arab refugees, East-West divisions and suspicions of “the other,” it’s important to understand the universal effect of God’s love, Henderson said.

“It is helpful to for Americans to encounter Iraqis in the context of worship and to remember God’s saving love for them as well as for us,” Henderson said.

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer:

Want to go?

All are welcome to the worship service, which is noon March 25 at The Park Church, 6029 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte.