Episcopalian, Baptist churches combine services

Members of Christ Episcopal Church, 20 W. First St., and First Baptist Church, 111 Monument Ave., will worship together for about a month.

The Episcopal church is undergoing renovations, and its membership is temporarily displaced. The Baptist church members decided to open their doors.

“The chapel that is adjacent to our entry way was in danger of collapsing,” said the Rev. John Paddock, of Christ Episcopal. “I approached them initially thinking we could hold our services at a different time, but they invited us to join our services with theirs. It has been great and a wonderful learning experience as we explore our various traditions.”

Two examples of how Baptists and Episcopalians differ in their beliefs are baptism and celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

“The Church of England and Anglican churches, including the Episcopal church, are a bridge of sorts,” Paddock said. “Our liturgical practices are very Catholic, whereas our theology is more Protestant.”

According to the Rev. Rodney Kennedy, of First Baptist, there are many different kinds of Baptists.

“We are congregational. We do not have a hierarchy,” Kennedy said. “Each local Baptist church is independent, and we have autonomy. When we invited them to worship with us that was a decision we made by ourselves; we didn’t need anyone else’s approval.”

The leaders of the two churches have been friends for about 10 years.

“We have worked together in many different ways, particularly on community-wide issues in a mission to the Dayton community,” Paddock said. “We do a lot of outreach programs with both congregations. We have collaborated in worship before for Ash Wednesday or Good Friday.”

According to Paddock, this is different because the services are using elements of both religions; the services are not fully Baptist or fully Anglican.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and people are now starting to ask what will happen when these four weeks are up,” Paddock said. “We want to keep this going in some way. We honor one another and find common ground.”

Kennedy has received similar responses from his church members.

“The response has been overwhelming positive,” Kennedy said. “Hospitality is really important to us. We think it is a major meaning of what it means to be a holy people. It creates good will.”

For more information, call Christ Episcopal Church at 223-2239 or First Baptist Church at 222-4691.

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