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St. Paul Baptist at Shively Heights: one year after merger

 

 

by Kelsey Starks
WHAS11.com
Posted on August 22, 2010 at 7:30 PM

  LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The historically black St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church 

in Smoketown and the predominately white Shively Heights merged to create St. Paul 

Baptist Church at Shively Heights in August of 2009.  Since then, membership has grown 

by nearly 50 people of both races and both pastors are looking toward the future.
   Some said it would never work – a black church and a white church in one, but two men 

said it would and their congregations followed.  "For those a year ago, who saw all this 

publicity and said this is not [going to] work, I would say just come and see the unity 

of God's people loving each other," says Rev. Mark Payton, who splits his time at the 

pulpit with Rev. Lincoln Bingham, the pastor from St. Paul in Smoketown.
   "We worship so differently," says Rev. Bingham, "so when you include that variety, 

it's so reflective of what heaven is going to be like, and I like variety!"
   Today it's a congregation of almost 300 people and growing.  Nearly 50 new members 

have joined in the last year.  They say they are "intentionally interracial" with many 

different kinds of worship.
   "I sort of equate it to a marriage," says Edna Burgin, a member at Shively Heights 

for 10 years.  "The first year you have to get used to each other.  They have their way 

of doing things, you have your way of doing things. That's the way it's been in the 

church."
   No one says it has been easy.  Both congregations lost members during the merger.  

"Did we lose people? Yes, we did. Did they? Yes they did. But now we are one people."
   The congregation now is looking ahead.  "Our focus now is on the future," says Rev. 

Bingham.  "To make sure we have the same enthusiasm, same commitment and same sacrifices 

to make this church what it should be."

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