Twelve churches in Brea, CA came together as one body to worship on Sunday evening.
The gathering was one of numerous joint church gatherings that have taken place once or twice each year in the suburban city, called ‘Brea United in Prayer and Worship.’ The recent gathering on Sunday took place at Living Hope Community Church, and was attended by some 200 African American, Asian American, Latino American, and White American members from Ambassador Church, Brea Baptist Church, Brea-Olinda Friends Church, Crossway Community Church, Firehouse of Prayer, Living Hope Community Church, North Hills Church, and The Way: A Praise Chapel, among others. A dozen churches were represented in total.
In a word of welcome, Pastor Steve Chang of Living Hope Community Church said such gatherings are important as it reminds congregants “that we don’t idolize or only have affections for our own churches.”
“At this time, we only want to lift up our Lord Jesus,” Chang said.
The night consisted of worship led by a joint praise team with members from Crossway, Living Hope, North Hills, and The Way; a time of prayer for racial reconciliation and for the pastors; and a time of communion.
“The type of unity Jesus prayed for was not agreement on every issue, but unity in Jesus himself,” said Alan Frow, pastor of Southlands Church, who led the prayer on racial reconciliation.
“Jesus is the only hope for both the oppressor and the oppressed,” said Frow. “For the unrepentant and the unforgiving.”
He then invited people to come forward and share their own experiences of racism or discrimination. One woman said she is often treated with suspicion. Another woman opened up about her childhood memories of being bullied by other ethnic peers.
Attendees also gathered in groups of 10 to share in communion and also share their stories in more intimate circles.
“I think the biggest thing that we were looking to accomplish was to just listen to these stories, and understand that there are experiences that are different from ours, and we need to listen to them,” said Pastor Richard Glasgow of Brea-Olinda Friends Church. “And lament with them, and validate that that was, or still is, wrong, and hurtful.”
Meanwhile, Brea United began in the late 1990s when a group of pastors who had been meeting on a regular basis for fellowship decided to have their congregants come together for worship.
“This gathering is basically about how we are the church together in this city,” explained Glasgow, who was one of the pastors to have started the gathering. Since then, the pastors have still continued to meet regularly, as they meet together on a weekly basis today.
“There’s no competition, no rivalries. It’s actually just the opposite,” said Glasgow. “We see each other as allies and brothers.”
During the weekly gatherings, pastors share on various types of topics, including those as casual as sports, those related to church such as curriculum for Bible studies or light and sound equipment, and those related to the current culture and politics.
“It’s about being the church together and helping each other,” he added. “There are plenty of people to reach in this city and in the surrounding community, and we can’t have enough churches to make that happen.”