Unity in the panhandle

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Myrtle Grove Baptist Church in Pensacola is moving to break racial and cultural barriers in its community and bring believers together as one family in Christ.

On Sunday night October 14th the church hosted a unity service attended by hundreds of people from various church families. Diversity was on display with a Vietnamese music team leading worship and preachers from multiple backgrounds bringing a biblical message.

“It was a wonderful celebration,” said Ron Lentine, Myrtle Grove’s pastor. “We leave our traditions at the door and we focus on the Gospel.”

School board staff, state and local government representatives were also present as the service.

Myrtle Grove is located ten minutes away from Escambia High School which was the site of violent, racially motivated riots in the 1970s. Since then there have been racial tensions in the area and as pastor, Lentine has moved to break those tensions and unite his community under the Gospel.

“The only way to end racism and division in our country is with the Gospel.”

Pastor James Miller of First Baptist Church in Warrington was one of the preachers that Sunday night. For him the service was a revelation of what Heaven is going to look like.

“At the end of the night we all sang Amazing Grace in our own language and I was next to some Korean brothers and sister and though I did not understand their words I knew we were in one spirit and it was wonderful to see,” he said.

In the Spring, Myrtle Grove organizes a unity march and rally that starts off at the church and culminates at Escambia High School. The intention is to make the site of such awful violence a place of reconciliation and Gospel unity.

“The vision is that what we’re doing here will spark a spiritual move that will spread to other towns and cities and they will also do this in their context,” said Lentine.

Miller added that he hopes this movement becomes “infectious.” “We get so caught up in our differences that we don’t realize how much more we have in common.

Lentine also hopes that the unity movement will open opportunities to share the Gospel with millennials and generation Z as statistics show that racial reconciliation is important to them. “We want to capture the hearts of millennials and generation Z so they too may want to be involved.”

It is the Gospel alone, says Lentine, that will “reconcile brother to brother. We are stronger than we are separate.”

Visit the link for a video story of the unity work Myrtle Grove and pastor Lentine are doing in their community.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Laooksyzm8&feature=youtu.be

By Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Convention, November 1, 2018

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