JACKSON (AP) Integration is commonplace in many aspects of American life, but places of worship appear to be one of the last divides.
Few would argue that Sunday mornings are the most segregated time in the United States, with the black, white and Hispanic communities largely worshipping in separate churches.
Some say it”s right and some say it”s wrong.
“People feel comfortable in a setting they are used to, the style of music, the preaching,” the Rev. James Burrus of Higby Street Church of Christ, a black congregation, told The Jackson Citizen Patriot for story yesterday.
The Rev. Thomas J. Ramundo, pastor of a predominantly white Jackson Free Methodist Church, likened it to “why some Christians prefer a liturgical (more formal) service, a Pentecostal or informal style. There is a lot of culture in the worship setting.”
Sister Paz de Guadalupe Bucio, formerly of Sacred Heart Chapel, a Catholic ministry of Hispanics, whites and blacks, said everyone should be treated the same.
“It isn”t that you belong to a certain church or denomination,” she said. “Like it or not, we will all be in the same place someday. One of my goals is to behave according to God”s will and help make a happy world for people.”
The Rev. James L. Hines, pastor of Lily Missionary Baptist Church, a black congregation, said he invited students of the neighboring New Tribes Bible Institute to come to his church for Thanksgiving dinner. He told them not to sit together, but to spread out and get to know his congregation.
“My dream is to be pastor of a multicultural church,” Hines said.
“People”s skin color doesn”t determine their heart. I”m always shocked when I am asked if white people can come to my church,” he added.
Esther Hurd of Spring Arbor attends Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church, a primarily white congregation that has pulpit exchanges with black pastors and occasionally invites black choirs to sing there.
“I wish we were more integrated so we could understand one another better, but I don”t know if that is possible, if only because there are few blacks who live in this area,” Hurd said.
Many see a future of more integrated congregations. But they say there is work to be done.
“It is stimulating and enriching to be around people different than you,” Ramundo said.