GROVETOWN – Reconciliation is a good thing. Reconciliation likely was the key to the revival at Pentecost. When those 120 disciples got in that upper room in Jerusalem to pray for ten days God began to point out their sins and faults and they began to confess their sins and get in one accord.
Surely impetuous, impulsive Peter and the meditative, reflective John had some fence-mending to do. There is no doubt in my mind that Simon, the national zealot, and Matthew, who had sold his soul to the Roman government to get his job as a tax collector, needed to bury the hatchet.
Those steps of reconciliation were necessary in order for the revival at Pentecost to become a reality. Christians should know that God is not going to bless division and discord.
Recently, The Augusta Chronicle reported on the reconciliation between two churches in the Augusta Baptist Association – Grove First Baptist Church and Fellowship Baptist Church.
The Chronicle explained, “More than 20 years ago, the pastor and some members left Grove First Baptist Church in Grovetown and established Fellowship Baptist Church, just few blocks down the road.
“Dr. Bill Eckles, the current pastor of Grove Baptist, said the way he understands it, the pastor of Grove First Baptist at the time wanted to move money from a building fund to a general budget, which was frowned on by many members of the congregation.”
“The split transpired over a disagreement over how money was to be spent,” Eckles said. “The pastor left there, and a group of people followed him.
“Sometime between 2008 and 2010 the two churches tried to reconcile to form one church again. Plans were drawn up to start a new church, but when church representatives got to the lawyers’ table, the details had changed.
“It wasn’t what we agreed to,” said Sonny Serigney, who has served as pastor of Fellowship Baptist for 10 years. He and at least one of his deacons, who recently approached him about seeking a reconciliation, believe the split is still hurting Fellowship.
“God doesn’t honor splits among believers,” Serigney said. “The way this was done was in animosity and bitterness. We felt that was the wrong way to start a church.”
Eckles explained, “Actually, I preached a revival back in April for Sonny and Fellowship and after that their chairman of deacons thought they needed to repent. I suggested that we have a joint service with letters of repentance written and read in the service. On the morning before the reconciliation service on Sunday evening I read to my congregation Genesis 50 where Joseph made peace with his brothers.
“There were letters that had been written prior to the service – letters of repentance and promised support for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Each letter was signed by the leadership and members of the separate churches and read in the reconciliation service.”
Serigney preached a message on Philippians 1:21 on “For me to live is Christ.” Ekles led the praise team and Fellowship provided the special music. Dwayne Boudreaux, missionary for Augusta Baptist Association, made some opening remarks and led in prayer.
Eckles continued, “We realized that in order for our churches to move forward in God’s kingdom and in our community, we needed to be in fellowship with one another.”
Serigney did not know Ekles prior to him arriving as pastor at Grove Baptist, but his decision to reach out and invite him to preach a revival at Fellowship may have been the first step God used to start the whole process of reconciliation.
Eckles predicted, “I feel confident that we will be able to work together in the future. I also believe that since there are 50,000 people within a five-mile radius of our churches that we will be able to grow greatly both spiritually and numerically.
“I believe that the kind of reconciliation we have experienced needs to happen all over our convention. There are too many splits and divisions. God does not honor discord and reconciliation is a must if God is going to use us in the future.
“Too many churches leave a bad taste in the mouths of people in the very communities where they are located, but if there were more examples of reconciliation perhaps people that have left the church would feel led to return again.”
The Apostle Paul said, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5: 18). If the lost are to be reconciled to God, believers must be reconciled to one another.