Jerusalem Second Baptist Church will host a unity service on Sunday, March 24, as part of the church’s 173rd anniversary celebration. The service will take place at 11 a.m. with guest speaker Pastor Michael Young of the Zion Hill Baptist Church in Springfield, followed by a community meal at 2:30 p.m., and then a 4 p.m. service with guest speaker Pastor Joey Brown of Mechanicsburg Christian Fellowship. All are invited to attend.
Pastor Michael Freeman, pastor of Jerusalem Second Baptist Church almost eight years, said he met Brown during the Revive Ohio initiative last April when all of the churches in the county had fellowship together about a week.
“He is a friend, and we didn’t really realize the big deal that was being made about us in town, with us being a predominantly African-American congregation and he’s got a predominantly white congregation, but that wasn’t really why we did it,” Freeman said. “I did it because I know God speaks through him and I know he’s going to have a powerful word that’s going to help propel us in a way to celebrate our anniversary.”
Brown said that he felt they worked better together, that their first conversation was about whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James was a better basketball player, and that ever since they have been friends.
“I think it’s a Chinese proverb that says if you want to go fast, go be yourself, but if you want to go far go with a group of people,” said Brown. “That’s kind of the way we see the church. We’re not competing, we’re for one another. We actually want to see souls saved and people set free. If you watch the news you’re depressed, if you get a doctor’s report you’re depressed, if you just deal with your inner thoughts you’re depressed. So we want to help bring people freedom and unity.”
“We’re living in a day and time when there are so many bad things happening, it’s good to see something good going on,” said Freeman.
According to Freeman, Jerusalem Second Baptist Church was started by the Chavers family in a house on Buckeye Street. The church’s current structure on South High Street was built in 1999 after a committee looked at several buildings to get an idea of what they wanted to build, including Mechanicsburg Christian Fellowship.
He said that the founders of the church chose to become a part of the Baptist denomination because it was typical for African American churches at that time.
“I don’t really get into denominations, if it was up to me we’d just be the church,” said Freeman. “We were part of the Baptist denomination, and when they started this church that’s just the denomination they decided to go with. Urbana already had an AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church, St. Paul over on Market Street, which is probably older than this. The people who founded this church just had grown up in the Baptist faith, and that’s what they went with.”
He also said that Mechanicsburg Christian Fellowship was the first white congregation to be hosted by Jerusalem Second Baptist, and that for many people connected to the church this was a historical event. Freeman estimated that about 75 people attend his church on a typical Sunday.
For more information, contact Jerusalem Second Baptist Church at 937-653-8171.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304