By Lonnie Wilkey
For at least one week once a year, churches in Lebanon and Wilson County put aside doctrinal differences and join together during Holy Week to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“All of us are busy and have our own ministries,” said Kevin Medlin, senior pastor of Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which has hosted Holy Week Services for the community for more than two decades.
“Every now and then it is good to get together and share the same purpose — to bring Him glory,” Medlin said. “One thing we all can agree on is that Jesus died and rose on the third day. We gather around that event.”
Medlin noted that his congregation had been hosting the event for several years when he came to the church as pastor 15 years ago. “I saw quickly that our church was known for Holy Week Services,” he recalled. “It means a lot to our area churches. It brings us together,” he affirmed.
This year, 10 churches were directly involved in the services, held daily from Noon until 12:30 p.m.
Two churches are responsible for each day’s service – one church provides the music while one church’s minister delivers a 15-minute message. Members from the two churches provide food at no cost to everyone who attends. A love offering is taken to fund “The Peace Award,” which is presented annually to two senior students at nearby Lebanon High School who promote harmony and unity.
Though hosted by Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian, the church does not dictate the message or the music, Medlin stressed. He noted that he does provide a “suggested” Bible verse for each day. “We try to take the events of the last week of Jesus’ life and look at them,” added.
Three Baptist ministers were among the speakers at during this year’s services — Jason Harlin, pastor, Barton’s Creek Baptist Church; Stan Blades, worship pastor, West Hills Baptist Church (subbing for pastor Will McReynolds who was unable to preach on their scheduled day); and David Freeman, First Baptist Church, Lebanon.
Harlin observed that Satan drives walls between believers on “side issues to keep us from coming together on major issues of evangelism and sharing the gospel with the lost world.
“We need to look past our differences and gather around the cross,” Harlin said.
McReynolds agreed. The event is “a good testimony of the unity of the body of Christ in Lebanon,” he said.
“We have varied doctrines but most of us understand there are things we can agree to disagree on but still can agree to worship the Risen Savior. Jesus Christ brings us all together.”
Agreeing that the week enables the community to focus on the “reason for the week,” Freeman observed that “we can all agree on the cross and the resurrection.”
But, in addition, the Holy Week Services is healthy for the community, Freeman said. He observed that many members of the churches are friends and know each other from the workplace and within the community. “This gives them an opportunity to worship together that normally does not happen.”
The First Baptist pastor also observed that the Holy Week Services is not just minister-driven. “This is a lay-led event as much as it is pastor-led,” he observed.
Harlin agreed. “It’s good to see the community come together (during Holy Week). We go our separate ways on Sunday.”
The Baptist pastors appreciate that Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian takes the lead and hosts the event. “They do the heavy lifting and are willing to host,” Freeman said.
Medlin, however, stressed that the event is not about the churches that participate. “It’s about Jesus and getting people (in the community) to gather around Him.” B&R