PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — For years, churches have been a place of safety and comfort, even though that meant they sometimes were segregated. On Sunday though, that changed in Panama City.
One day before the country will recognize the impact Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had for rights of all people, First Baptist Church (FBC) of Panama City, Family of God Baptist Church and Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church held a joint worship service.
Senior Pastor of FBC, Dr. Craig Conner says having it so close to the day of observance wasn’t intentional.
“Really we planned this service before I knew that was on the calendar but after we did, I said you know what, I think God’s in it because I think God planned it for this day for that reason,” Conner said.
Blurring the lines of racial division, Pastor Dwight Woods says coming together made the service that much more powerful.
“It was awesome to me to see this today. To have such a large group of African Americans and whites come together to worship God. I think it’s much of what heaven’s going to be like, just people coming together from all over the place and so I think we need to start practicing it now,” Woods said.
The three pastors agree, when the churches are working together, the community will too.
Pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Jesse Nelson said, “Through Hurricane Michael, I think that brought the unity that we needed. That’s what I saw evidence today was just the fruition of prayers and desires and really just the Glory of God.”
Pastor Conner preached a sermon of unity and celebrating each other’s differences, but that’s not all he delivered.
Through offering collected at FBC, Conner gifted both the visiting pastors $50,000 for their churches.
“When I heard 50,000, I was trying not to pass out because I was on stage with everyone but it really was wild, amazing,” Nelson said.
During remarks after the offering, Woods’ first act was to pray.
“I just thought all Glory belongs to God at that moment. I mean God moved upon the pastor’s heart here at this church, moved upon the people to follow his vision, to reach out to a local church to help them through the disaster that we’ve been through,” Woods said.
Both churches are still heavily damaged since the storm and this money will help them rebuild or start new projects.
“In the process that we’re in. We’re having to go through FEMA and FEMA is going to provide 75% of the rebuild but we have 25% we have to come up with so this will go towards 25%,” said Woods.
Pastor Nelson says they’re wanting to build a new facility on their campus.
“We’re in the discussions and praying about a new building design we want to put on our campus which is a community outreach center,” Nelson said.
While the offering was a big one, Conner says he knows the money was placed in the right hands.
“I knew the two pastors and really trust these guys that I know they’re really invested in trying to build the Kingdom of God and that’s the first and foremost thing that I wanted to help some churches that I knew we’re going to be serious about preaching the gospel,” Conner said.
You can see the offering be presented during Sunday’s service, as well as remarks from Nelson and Woods in the video below.
Learn more about the Family of God Baptist Church here.
Click here for information on Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.
You can watch sermons from First Baptist Church on Sunday mornings on News 13 at 11:00 a.m. CST or learn more about the church here.