On the Northern Neck of Virginia God continues to work in glorious ways! He is always there for us, going beyond what our prayers ask for, and even delivering solutions for our most challenging situations.
An unfolding miracle has been the blending of two diverse churches into one over a period of more than three and a half years. Those years have brought joy, companionship, comfort and spiritual growth to two Heathsville churches: First Baptist Church and St. Stephen’s Anglican Church (recently renamed Light of Christ Anglican Church).
It began when St. Stephen’s lost a legal battle to keep our church building, and needed to find a home while the dust settled and we waited for future direction from the Lord. We had the feelings the Jews must have had in their 40-year experience in the desert. Several churches offered to share space and, after much prayer and discernment, it was clear that First Baptist was the right place to go. Our two churches had already partnered in many activities and events—most notably sharing “Brotherhood Sundays” once a year, alternating the host facility—and so, in many ways it was like going home.
On April 1, 2012, the congregation of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church moved into the Parish Hall (O.A. Brinkley Hall) of First Baptist Church and conducted our first Service there. The men of First Baptist even rushed to complete the basement of the Parish Hall to provide wonderful office space, classrooms and a choir room.
In the years that followed the two congregations would often join together for breakfasts, Bible Studies, outdoor picnics, Veterans’ Day ceremonies, and even an occasional combined Church Service, as we have done on Thanksgiving Eve for the last three years. Both churches worship at the same hour on Sundays, in two rooms under the same roof, about 30-yards apart. Members often come into each other’s services to issue invitations to upcoming events. For the past few months, representatives of the two congregations have been meeting at 8:30 a.m. to pray for each other before a larger 9:00 a.m. Bible Study and worship. Through all of this, we shared the kitchen—and even there, the timing of services allowed for use of the kitchen by each church without major conflicts. Pastor John Fountaine (First Baptist) and Pastor Jeff Cerar (Light of Christ) brought the love of Christ right into the middle of this arrangement.
Light of Christ Anglican Church will soon open the doors of our new church building, one half-mile east of the Northumberland Schools on Route 360. We know the love and support from First Baptist Church will be there on opening day and in the years to come. God is so good, and the bond between these two churches can never be broken.
And the message in all of this is clear: Accept the roadblocks of life as “challenges” which can best be solved by Faith.
The Rev. Jeff Cerar is rector of Light of Christ Anglican Church (formerly St. Stephen's Anglican Church) in Heathsville, VA. Ward LeHardy is a member of Light of Christ Anglican Church.