Crusade's focus on oneness historic


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By Reggie Ponder

Thursday, October 25, 2018

By the time you’re reading this the Elizabeth City Crusade will be history.

It has turned out to be very good history, too.

I was there Sunday night as the crusade began. The preacher, William “Duce” Branch, proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a straightforward and powerful way. He explained the account of Cornelius’ conversion in Acts in a way that enabled the event to come to life again as the people heard it.

For some it might have been their first exposure to Cornelius and the way God changed his life as he came to believe in Jesus Christ.

Others had heard this before, maybe dozens of times before, yet seemed to be hearing if for the first time as they experienced the power of God’s Spirit in their own lives.

I didn’t make it back Monday night because I had an assignment with the paper, and I worked later than I had planned to Tuesday and didn’t make it then, either.

But as I write this on Wednesday morning I’m planning to make it back out there for the last night.

I mentioned the preaching but I’ve got to say a word about the music. On Sunday night a mass choir made up of singers from churches throughout the area came together and lifted their voices together in joy, praising God for what he has been doing in their lives.

There was also robust singing by the gathered crowd.

This was all joyful and beautiful singing.

The message Sunday night also touched on Christian unity and relations between races and ethnic groups in a way that was completely rooted in the Gospel. One of the things the preacher said early on, and came back to a time or two, is that oneness among Christians is something that God has already accomplished through Jesus Christ.

Christians just need to learn to walk in that oneness that already exists, Branch told the crowd.

The crowd itself also witnessed to that oneness as it was made up of both black people and white people in a roughly even mix. That matters especially because you don’t see that at very many events in Elizabeth City.

I once heard someone say that the only event in Elizabeth City that really brings the whole community together is Fourth of July fireworks show.

That struck me as true then and still seems to have a ring of truth today, but now with an asterisk. Many times the crowd at the fireworks display is still broken up into pockets of people who already know each other well.

That’s OK. It’s not unusual to want to celebrate a holiday with your family and closest friends.

But Sunday night under the big tent on Corsair Circle people were sitting with people they had just met, and people of different races were sitting together, singing together and praying together.

This event is history in more ways than one.

Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.