Jesus is the Subject: Division Yields to Holy Spirit in Wyoming Community
By Rachel Eldridge
When Church of God pastor Jesse McLain and his family first arrived in Dubois, Wyoming, they found a small cowboy town historically splintered by independent personalities and strong denominational lines. Now, two years later, McLain credits the Holy Spirit for so clearly moving in the fellowship and solidarity of Warm Valley Community Church and other local believers. The body of Christ in Dubois, once divided, now finds pastors and parishioners from various denominations coming together to worship the Lord.
“About three years ago, the Holy Spirit started to gather some new pastoral leaders from all over the nation to come here and lead various churches,” McLain said, describing leaders at the Baptist, Assembly of God, and Church of Christ congregations in Dubois. On Good Friday this year, coronavirus precautions prompted these and other churches to cancel in-person services. That did not stop these four Dubois pastors from meeting at Warm Valley to lead an interdenominational, socially distant, yet unified Good Friday worship service, livestreamed for their congregations.
“This was the first time in nearly three decades that such a meeting had occurred in this town,” said McLain. “We sang some classic hymns and praise choruses and, although only the pastors and worship team were gathered, the sense of unity and togetherness was evident to all.”
The town’s churches reopened recently, but during the coronavirus shutdowns, Warm Valley Community Church welcomed a diverse but unified crowd to its livestreamed services. Members of the local Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Church of Christ congregations regularly worshiped online alongside Warm Valley’s usual attendees, as well as with others who joined after seeing McLain go live on Facebook. Combined in-person and online attendance at one recent service was four times the size of Warm Valley’s usual attendance, but the numbers themselves are not what excites McLain.
“To me, this is the very definition of Christian unity taught by the early Church of God leaders,” he said. “It was not so much about who was right and why” on all theological questions, but about a commitment to Jesus Christ.
Rachel Eldridge is a freelance writer who takes frequent walks to avoid Zoom burnout. She attends First Church of God in New Albany, Indiana.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.