By JASON REYNOLDS
Tennessee Christian News
Two pastors — one black and one white — are holding an interracial service in Shelbyville, Tennessee, on Wednesday, Dec. 10. The friends were planning the event well before racial unrest broke out following a grand jury’s ruling in Ferguson, Missouri.
Jason Scales, who is black, is pastor of Believers Faith Fellowship, a church in Christiana that prides itself on having a diverse congregation. His church has an attendance of 350-plus. Jason Daughdrill, who is white, is pastor of the largely white Gateway Church in Shelbyville (Church of God denomination). His church has an attendance of 300-plus.
The joint service will be at 6:30 p.m. at Gateway Church on Madison Avenue. Scales, a Shelbyville native, said his church’s praise and worship team will conduct a service and then he will preach. Daughdrill said he will not be preaching Wednesday.
“We’re able to be blessed by them,” he said. “The only ‘negative’ is that I have to follow him up and preach on Sunday,” he joked, adding that Scales is a great preacher.
Wednesday is also the exact day that Gateway was incorporated 75 years ago, Daughdrill said.
Moving beyond Ferguson
On Nov. 24, a grand jury’s ruling was announced concerning the police’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown last August. The police officer was not indicted, prompting racial unrest in Ferguson and other areas of the nation.
Regarding the Ferguson controversy, Scales said, “We’re two friends with a heart to heart connection.”
The pastors said they had been officially planning the event for at least two months and had discussed it even before that. Each pastor has preached at the other’s church in the past as well.
The men first met after an NBG Ministries event last fall. They had heard about one another due to mutual friends as well.
Both men say they like to be intentional in their worship and their discipleship.
“I respect what he does as a leader,” Daughdrill said of Scales.
Better church relations
Both pastors were asked about about the segregation of America’s churches.
“There’s no denying the reality of what we see,” Daughdrill said, adding that there has been progress. “That’s what we want for Gateway.”
Scales said, “It’s not all negative. It’s more preference than prejudice. We strive to be multicultural. People gravitate to a church based on preference and style. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating culture. The problem is when you lose your identity just to blend in.”
Daughdrill said he agreed, adding that what church a person attends can be about that location’s worship style.
Authenticity is the key to attracting worshipers, Daughdrill said. Churches should pay more attention to that than to competing with one another to see which can draw the most people, he said.
“They can tell when you’re faking it,” he said. “If you’re being passionate, you’ll draw people to Jesus.”
Living out faith
People should take responsibility for their actions instead of pointing fingers, whether they are black or white, Scales said.
Many people work with others of different races, Scales said.
“Now, we just need to get used to worshiping together,” he said.
Daughdrill said that by worshiping together, the congregations can “put legs” on their declaration that Christianity is about showing Jesus’ love to others.
“We’ve got to build connections and love people,” he said.
Scales said he agrees.
“This will let people see what God placed inside of us,” Scales said.