‘More than on our own’: Fortville churches plan to gather for night of worship

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Fortville United Methodist Church’s bell choir plays during a community worship service in January 2020 organized by Fortville Christians Unite. (The church later merged with another church to become Gateway Community Church of Fortville.) Area churches plan to come together again in September for a service outdoors in Landmark Park.

Photos provided

FORTVILLE — Rows and rows of worshipers from local congregations filled auditorium seats and looked forward to the stage.

The Rev. Phil Edwards spoke to them about a passage in the New Testament about different parts of the body functioning together, likening that to the local churches gathered.

“We are different … Yet we are all striving together for the same purpose,” he said this week as he recalled that service. “That is to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and get people ready to go to Heaven.”

It was a great feeling to be there, he said, with hundreds of others gathered in the auditorium of Mt. Vernon High School. There was camaraderie, fellowship, “a feeling we need to do more of that,” he said.

It was January 2020, though, and plans for large worship gatherings would soon be put on hold as people sought to practice social distancing amid the coronavirus. But leaders of Fortville Christians Unite, a group of Fortville-area churches collaborating on shared service and worship opportunities, have planned an community evening of worship at 5 p.m. Sept. 18. The service will be outdoors at Landmark Park, 216 E. Staat St., Fortville.

The service runs from 5-6 p.m. Worshipers should bring lawn chairs. Musicians from various churches will lead worship.

An after party from 6-7 will feature bounce houses, ice cream, games for youth groups from various churches, and time to eat a bring-your-own picnic or buy food from several food trucks present.

Local church leaders are glad to see another shared time of worship on the calendar. The service in 2020 drew about 300, and organizers anticipate 400-500 people gathering at the park.

The Rev. Mark Adcock, pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship, said those planning the service have considered the order of worship at local churches and “tried to make it something that all the churches might be able to relate to.”

Even though it’s been a while since a combined service, Fortville Christians Unite has been active in other ways in the community. In fall 2020, they organized a “prayer drive,” encouraging people to drive to sites in the community and pray for medical personnel, first responders, educators and other community servants from their cars.

The churches have worked together to provide weekend food for students at each Mt. Vernon school who could use it. They package kid-friendly nutrition in bags and drop them off weekly for school staff to discreetly distribute. Members from different churches volunteer each week at Fortville Area Resource Mission. Congregations have collected certain items — one gathering boxes of stuffing, one gathering mashed potatoes, and so on — for food boxes given to families before Thanksgiving.

“We continue to try to broaden our impact as a collection of churches,” Adcock said. “We are a group of churches who choose not to compete with each other, but to come together and celebrate Jesus.”

Ken Primeau, lead pastor of Mercy Road Church Northeast, plans to speak about the seventeenth chapter of John during the service — a passage in which Jesus, hours before the crucifixion, prays that his followers would be one.

“I really want to talk about the unity of Christians, us being so unified so the world will see who Jesus is …,” he said.

“I’m hoping that people in our churches would get excited about us partnering together to find ways to serve … I hope people start getting a vision for that, that we together could do more than on our own as one individual church or one individual Christian.”

COMMUNITY WORSHIP NIGHT

5 p.m. Sept. 18, with after party from 6-7

Landmark Park in Fortville

Fortville Christians Unite — a group of collaborating local churches including Fortville Christian Church, Fortville Church of the Nazarene, Gateway Community Church, Mercy Road Church Northeast, New Life Christian Fellowship and St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church — is planning the service and also collaborates on meeting community needs. — —