United as One

United as One

Christians Come Together to Heal Divisive Social Climate

by Peggy Bair

The grassy open space at 4th & Chestnut next to First United Methodist Church Leavenworth was the site of the outdoor event United as One Thursday night in Leavenworth, KS. Sixteen area churches joined together to bring the event which continues September 18 and 19th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each night. It is open to the public, masks and social distancing are strongly encouraged even though the event is outdoors.

The event is also live-streamed at Unitedasone.church for those are unable to attend in person or wish to participate remotely.

One of the organizers, Ed Marquay, with Westside Family Church, said the need for a unity event became paramount in 2020.

“It’s because of the tension that is going on in our society between COVID, the racial conflict that we are having with each other, our government. It’s kind of dark in our country today,” said Marquay. “So, we wanted to bring Leavenworth County together to unite together in love and respect, breaking down all barriers of race and so forth…just to start respecting each other, loving each other,” he added. “We are hoping we can bring that message to the people in the next three nights. We want the churches here in Leavenworth County to open up to each other and do things together so we can interface as one body.”

“People are unsettled right now. We want to bring happiness and peace. We want to be the lighthouse here in Leavenworth and see this domino effect happen,” said Marquay.

The idea for the event was sparked between Pastor Tony Majors, with Glimmer of Light Fellowship Ministries and Marquay two months ago.

Marquay said he and Majors had a common vision at different times in their lives. “God put us together. That’s how it all started. More churches came together and we’ve been having meetings with the church leaders, the pastors,” Marquay said.

“The church has called ‘buildings’ church and forgot that the church is in them,” Majors said. “Everywhere the individual goes, the church goes. Last night we saw the church. When we remove ourselves from these barriers, we’ll see a lot of reconciliation through Jesus Christ.”

Former Leavenworth mayor Jermaine Wilson attends Westside Family Church and volunteered worked with the Marquay and Majors to promote the event with the hope of uniting together the churches and people. Wilson’s program Unity in the Community fits in also with the goals the churches hope to inspire.

“We want to not have this just be a one time thing,” said Marquay. “[We hope] that down the road we have some more of these activities – that we start speaking to each other and enjoying each other, helping each other out – bring Christ back into the light. We want to make him visible again to the community.”

(above) Worshippers raised their hands as for songs and worship Thursday night during the United as One event at First United Methodist Leavenworth at 4th and Chestnut. The event continues tonight (Friday) and Saturday, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It is a bring-your-own-seating event outdoors with masks and social distancing. ©2020 Photos by Peggy Bair/HeartKC

Dave Walker, pastor with Harvest Christian Center International church in Leavenworth spoke about the inspiration that brought the churches together for this event.

“The people are open and they want to be connected,” said Walker. “We have to look beyond our differences and find the common denominator. For believers, the common denominator is the Word of God and Jesus Christ.”

Pastor David Walker used lights to demonstrate connecting with Christ. “We can’t be the light in the darkness unless we’re connected to Him,” said Pastor Walker. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC.
Tammy Krause recently moved to Leavenworth from Colorado Springs. She teaches K-2 English as a second language at Grant Elementary School in KC, KS. “I feel like we were called to Leavenworth.” She said her and her husband are still looking for a church to call home. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
Minister Kai’ Brown with Rock of Refuge Christian Fellowship speaks Thursday, September 17, 2020 during the opening night of the United as One event at First United Methodist Church Leavenworth. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC

The driving force behind United as One is to create a place for people to react to the negative pressures.

“People are trying to uplift each other. encouraging each other – not by riots – but by love, by compassion, by empathy,” said Walker.

Those who attended the Thursday night service of United as One participated in the sermon by Pastor David Walker who encouraged people to let their light shine by connecting with Jesus first. ©2020 Photo by Terry Bair/HeartKC

Thursday night’s message was “United in Jesus.” An estimated 150-180 people attended. The space has an allowed capacity for 500 to allow for social distancing. There was plenty of room for more people as people clustered together by family and left space between them. Friday’s program is “United as a Body” and Saturday’s program is “United on a Mission.”

Music, singing, personal testimony as well as worship and speakers will be featured both nights. The program is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. *This is a bring your own seating event.* For more information: United as One Facebook page.

Adrienne Rivera posed with Laura and Ronald Coaxum before the start of the United as One event Thursday, Sept. 18, 2020 held on the grounds of the First United Methodist Church Leavenworth. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
Tamera Langston, Lansing, attended United as One on Thursday. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
Lundy Mays, Leavenworth, joined about 150-180 attendees Thursday evening at First United Methodist Church Leavenworth for the United as One event. The event continues Friday and Saturday from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
Kasey Robinson, Lead Minister of Westside Leavenworth Church speaks to the Thursday night outdoor participants of United as One that was held on the ground of First United Methodist Church Leavenworth. ©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC
Jermaine Wilson, left and Jeff Pittman watch over the singing and participants during the beginning of the United as One event Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, on the ground of the First United Methodist Church Leavenworth.
©2020 Photo by Peggy Bair/HeartKC

Many things were to be discussed in the course of consideration for the event but Pastor David Walker offered a succinct explanation in his interview with HeartKC:

“As long as there are people on this earth, there are going to be differences,” said Walker. “The key to it is can we look at it through each others’ eyes and show compassion to one another.”

Participating churches:

Glimmer of Light Fellowship MinistriesLeavenworth
St. James CMELeavenworth
Harvest Christian Center International ChurchLeavenworth 
Shiloh Seven Day AdventistLeavenworth 
First United Methodist Church Leavenworth
First Baptist Church Basehor
Wallula Christian ChurchLeavenworth
Leavenworth MissionLeavenworth
Sunflower Missionary Baptist ChurchLeavenworth
First Presbyterian ChurchLeavenworth
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal ChurchLeavenworth
Rock of Refuge Christian FellowshipLeavenworth
Salvation ArmyLeavenworth
Westside Family ChurchLeavenworth
New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church Lansing 
Household of Faith ChurchLeavenworth
Peggy Bair

Peggy Bair is a Midwest journalist and photographer covering human interest stories throughout Middle America.

I am an alum of the English Department of the University of Missouri – Kansas City with continuing studies in Nutrition Communications from Arizona State University.
I am a member of the American Society of Media Photographers, the National Press Photographers Association and Professional Photographers of America. I have worked on the staffs of six different newspapers throughout my career and specialize in people stories. Your support of local journalism helps me keep bringing stories that connect us and perhaps lift your spirits.

Although my business has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have not accepted any payment, grants, government assistance or unemployment for my journalism during this pandemic. If you would like to donate to support honest, informative storytelling, you can contribute by posting any amount to my PayPal donation link. In any case, sharing the link to this story with others helps spread the positive, share the happiness that is HeartKC.

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