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3-day revival opens in Rock Hill, uniting believers

When Brian Large's children were young, they would ask why 11 a.m. on Sunday morning was always the most segregated hour of the week.

Large, now one of two associate pastors for The Body, said he still doesn't have a "good answer" to that question.

But if his children could have seen the sight he witnessed Wednesday night, he said they'd be happy.

Close to 100 people from more than 10 different Rock Hill churches stood together in the sanctuary of Agape International Church Wednesday evening in an effort to unite believers of all races, genders, denominations and ethnic backgrounds.

The gathering was the first of what event organizers hope will be an annual citywide revival.

About 12 to 15 churches have been involved since March in planning the four-day revival, said Maurice Revell, senior pastor of Agape Ministries International.

Dialogue about a revival began via Facebook, Revell said, when a couple of pastors chatted about fostering an environment of unity and community in Rock Hill.

In Revell's view, the first step should come from church leaders.

"If Rock Hill is going to be a city with no room for racism, then we as pastors should take the lead," Revell said.

Following the precepts outlined by Jesus Christ, Revell said the event's organizers believe oneness across ethnic, racial and gender lines "starts with the clergy."

At Agape on Wednesday, the walls of segregation came down. When the service began, hands were lifted. Shouts of praise were uttered while attendees prayed for unity in the community and among Christians.

To Marian Cullars, a two-year member of Agape, race wasn't an issue.

Instead, she said the gathering is "something everyone should do," because, "we're all worshipping the Lord."

Sharon Floyd, a member of Gethsemane Church, helped Cullars greet visitors as they entered the vestibule.

"I'm excited for the kingdom of God," Floyd said. "The central focus is on God and people accepting Christ."

Stacie Lewis said there's a definite separation of races when it comes to church on Sundays, but "we're all people."

"We all believe in the same Christ," said Lewis, a member of The Body.

Another member of The Body, Barry McCoy, agreed.

"[This] should have happened a long time ago," he said.

For Edward Grimes, a member of Freedom Temple, the pulsing music of praise and worship was nothing new.

Instead, it was the gathering that was "different ... a good different," he said.

Preaching what he called his shortest sermon ever, the Rev. Lemuel Anderson of Integrity Ministry of God stepped to the stage and told attendees that it's time for Christians to get back to unity.

"Though we may differ and have diversities, we're all Christians and believers in one body," he said.

He also dubbed the gathering a "family reunion" and called for similar assemblies in the future.

"Let's show the world that we can unite for Christ," he said.

Want to go?

The revival continues from 7 to 9 tonight through Friday night at Agape International Ministries, 135 S. Oakland Ave., Rock Hill.

For information, call 803-329-0892 or email agape@comporium.net.

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