East Lauderdale Covenant Churches celebrated with their
Bishop Swanson is surrounded by food donations as he preaches missions and community.
annual Fall Praise and Worship Service and kicked off their joint revival Sunday evening, October 20 at Lauderdale United Methodist Church, with Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. preaching. The 14 United Methodist churches in and around Meridian have been sharing worship and ministries on a regular basis since the mid-90s. They have an annual Palm Sunday evening joint worship and a fall praise gathering as well as having a joint revival with rotating locations and preachers. The theme for this year's fall events is "The POWER of We: Joy That Can Be Heard from Afar." Their theme verse was Nehemiah 12:43.
There was a joint choir from the churches and the music was led by, as Bishop Swanson put it, "a tag team" of Reid Vaughn and Frances Gail Jones. Those attending were invited to bring a gift of non-perishable foods to be given to Wesley House for their food ministry. During the offering time, worshippers were asked to place their offerings on the altar, either of food or money. In addition to a large quantity of food, about $480 was given to Wesley House Community Center in Meridian.
Bishop Swanson preached on the topic: "Nothing Is out of God's Reach," and used Acts. 5:12-16 as the scriptural text. He began by saying, "It is great to see churches come together not only to worship, but to be in mission and ministry to a world with so much need. It is good to see people not afraid to love and willing to share out of the abundance that God has given them." He continued, "I wish ABC, NBC, CNN and FOX were here tonight to tell this story of churches joining together in fellowship and love for one another and love for their community.
He told about his serendipitous visit to Wesley House on Saturday.
He had not known he was going to be there and he did not know when he was there that the Sunday evening offering would be for that ministry. He told of seeing and hearing stories of women and children whose lives have been changed through the ministries of Wesley House. He said, "Seeing that community center first hand just stirred my passion for justice. There is so much that can be done through their work there. It is so exciting to see how God is using United Methodists in that place. If United Methodists could just see those ministries first hand and know just a portion of what God is doing in their midst, they would never be depressed about their church."
Members of the East Lauderdale Covenant churches gathered around Bishop Swanson to pray for him during his upcoming surgery.
The stirring service closed with Holy Communion followed by the congregation gathering around the altar and laying hands on Swanson in prayer and anointing his head with oil, praying for healing for his upcoming surgery. Following the service, finger foods were served in the church's fellowship hall.
The revival continued Monday and Tuesday evenings. Monday night the group met at Cornerstone UMC in Meridian with the Rev. Eddie Edwards preaching. Tuesday night, the group met at Wesley Chapel UMC in Meridian with the Rev. Wesley Pepper preaching.