[ back ]
Color is no barrier for sharing pastors
Color is no barrier for sharing pastors
By SUE REID
Not only do the Revs. Scott Low and Dallas Lauderdale share a friendship, a love of sports and a vision for their respective congregations -- they now share the same four walls.
Beginning Sunday, Jan. 1, the Rev. Lauderdale, pastor of Trinity Community Church, formerly located in Orange, and his congregation celebrated their first service at their new home, the Solon United Methodist Church.
The two pastors began a dialogue late last year that allowed a shared arrangement in which Trinity Community Church will worship each Sunday in the Solon United Methodist Church building on SOM Center Road (Route 91).
They came to the arrangement in an unusual way.
Trinity Community Church, which had been housed at New Song Church in Orange and prior to that at Solon Community Church during its five-year existence, was looking for a space to hold a funeral for a member and expected a large crowd. It was Solon United Methodist Church that offered the needed space.
At about the same time in early December, the Rev. Low asked his friend of the past four years, the Rev. Lauderdale, to attend a seminar with him called "Breaking Barriers."
"It addressed how we in the church cross over the racial-socioeconomic denominational barriers that tend to separate us as Christian people," the Rev. Low said. "I invited Dallas to come along, and we spent the morning together. It was a time for growth for both of us, in our friendship and in our vision in inviting a diverse congregation to worship."
The Rev. Lauderdale, a resident of Solon, had been looking for an opportunity to return to the city for his 50-member congregation.
"We have worshipped in other churches within the area, but we have not had the kind of collaborative mindset that we now have with the Solon United Methodist Church," the Rev. Lauderdale said. "We are all very excited about the opportunities."
"Both of us and the leadership in both our congregations believe that, by them being here, it will help us both accomplish our vision and mission that we are called to by God to achieve," the Rev. Low said.
"We both share a vision of our congregations reflecting the community as far as diversity," the Rev. Low said. "He has an African-American congregation, and we have a mostly white congregation.
"We don't intend to force anything together necessarily," the Rev. Low said, "but we see that, as we continue to grow in our relationship, the possibilities might be there, and we'll follow the Holy Spirit as God leads us."
The two pastors said they see immediate and long-term benefits of their collaboration.
"We are sharing expenses and overhead of the building, which, in these economic times, makes sense," the Rev. Low said. More importantly, he said, "we will promote doing things together," such as mission trips, vacation Bible school and youth groups.
"We can share our leadership," the Rev. Low said. "We will be crossing some of those racial barriers that still exist in some churches."
According to the two pastors, the most segregated times in America tend to be Sunday mornings in most churches.
"We are looking to cross those lines," the Rev. Low said.
"There's so much opportunity for different ideas and thoughts when we celebrate the diversity that exists within the body of Christ," the Rev. Lauderdale said. "Although it may be difficult to do on a church-by-church basis, I look forward to collaborating with folks at Solon UMC on a more individual basis.
"It's unlimited the things we can as two congregations to know each other a little more," he said.
The Rev. Lauderdale said he looks forward to his church members being able to worship in the Solon United Methodist Church space, as well as using its classroom space and multipurpose room and having "the opportunity to establish a foundation for our particular congregation."
The pastors said the support has been great from both of their parish communities.
Solon United Methodist Church worship will remain unchanged at 9 a.m. for the traditional service and 10:45 a.m. for the contemporary service. Trinity Community Church will continue to hold services at 12:30 p.m.
"In church we get locked up on our favorite songs and our favorite seats and parking spots," the Rev. Lauderdale said. "This allows Scott and I the opportunity to push our congregations beyond those boundaries.
"We are not merging as a church but getting close," he said. "We're worshipping in the same building and passing each other and talking to each other."
Outside the church, the Rev. Lauderdale, whose son Dallas was a standout on the Solon High School and Ohio State University basketball teams, and the Rev. Low, whose children also play sports, share that passion as well. Talking about sports is their favorite pastime, they said with a laugh.
"It's one of those things where our relationship is blossoming and growing as we enter into this new opportunity for both our congregations," the Rev. Lauderdale said. "The Solon UMC has been overwhelmingly receptive, warm and gracious. I just can't say enough."
With shared ministries comes the hope for growing opportunities, the two pastors said.
"The challenges we all face are the same," the Rev. Lauderdale said. "When it comes to religion, we're kind of stuck on, 'we've got to do it our way.'
"This collaboration is an opportunity to go beyond that."
[ back ]