Two Mississippi Churches — One Black, One White — Celebrate One Year Anniversary After Merger

(Photo: Special to The Clarion-Ledger)

New Vision Church of the Nazarene is knocking down walls — walls between cultures, races and churches.

Two discrete Nazarene churches merged last year, one predominately African American and the other predominately white, under an African American pastor, for the first time in Mississippi history, according to Pastor Robert Lanier.

New Vision was the product of this unification in April 2016. This weekend, the church celebrates its one-year anniversary a few months late.

“We see it as a move of God in our midst,” Lanier said of the merger.

Lanier has pastored in the Jackson area for about seven years. He founded One Accord Church of the Nazarene in 2010. The church met in his living room until it outgrew his house, when it began sharing space with Emmanuel Church of the Nazarene.

The two churches met at two different times, Emmanuel in the morning and One Accord in the afternoon.

Emmanuel was predominately full of elderly white people, and Lanier said the church had dwindled over the years. Lanier said Emmanuel “desired to have a presence in the surrounding community” but did not have the means to reach it in the capacity they wanted.

This is where One Accord, predominately African American, came in.

A member of Emmanuel since 2008, Betty Parker, 76, who supported the merger, said One Accord brought new life into Emmanuel by enabling the elderly to reach the community in new ways.

“We (the elderly) are the prayer warriors behind the troops that go out and witness for Christ … We were excited that we could work in this harvest field,” Parker said.

Clementine McDavid, a member of the One Accord since 2011, also supported the merger.

“We are getting a lot more done as a group. There is strength in numbers,” McDavid said.

The formation of New Vision was unanimously approved by both congregations in March 2016 and approved by the MidSouth District of the Nazarene that April.

Lanier, originally from Meridian, named two ways to remove walls:

“One being taking a bulldozer and breaking them down, and the other being you can disassemble it piece by piece, section by section, whereby you don’t do as much wreckage.”

He said his goal with New Vision is the latter.

“We see ourselves cracking the mold of racial division, particularly in the church, where we feel this should not be,” Lanier said.

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SOURCE: Emmalyne Kwasny
The Clarion-Ledger