Working side by side

By Amy Wagner

Contributing Writer

“We’ll probably pinch each other a bit but we’ll also celebrate together,” said Pastor Dan Carlton of Culpeper Baptist Church as his congregation prepares to join forces with yet another church under one roof.  Tom Friedrich, pastor of City on a Hill Church had similar insights “I’m excited to be working alongside Dan.  We are so different.”  The two churches will unite to create a band of five churches worshipping under one roof, beginning mid-March.

A cornerstone in Culpeper, Culpeper Baptist has embraced several faiths/congregations throughout the years that includes four churches.  Marinatha, a Latino congregation, worships in the worship center each Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m.; Culpeper Korean worships in the large classroom on the third floor each Sunday at 11 a.m.; the Love Church worships in the chapel each Sunday at 11 a.m. and City on a Hill, who will complete the five, will worship each Sunday in the worship center at 10:30 a.m. just before Easter.

As far as joining forces with another church both Friedrichs and Carlton agree that it isn’t about a steeple.  “It’s about a mission.  We need a facility but that can’t be the whole of what we do,” said Carlton, adding,” The building is a tool to mission if we look at it the right way.”

Shelton has been at Culpeper Baptist for just over three years.  This spring a 244-year-old church is coming together with a ten-year-old church which creates a special combination.  “It’s churches working side by side,” said Carlton recently.  “Typically it’s a church plant coming together, so this is unique,” he added.  The two churches plan to provide youth ministry collaboratively and plan their ministry much the same.

Friedrichs and Carlton met at a Healthy Culpeper meeting.  They began talking leases and spaces and decided it might be better for the Kingdom if they joined forces.  Shelton’s congregation voted at the end of January 2018 and the deal was sealed.  Speaking deals, Carlton feels adding another congregation under Culpeper Baptist’s roof provides more opportunity for people to worship in Culpeper; he feels it is a good use of space and resources.

“We host a lot of community groups so it’s nice to have different presences, “said Carlton noting that they have had increased community involvement events and he is hopeful the two can come together for those types of event.

“Both of us can learn from each other’s models”, said Carlton who acknowledged that City on a Hill is a home based model and Culpeper Baptist is a progmattic church model. Friedrichs said, “We want our groups to get together to reach out, not just read the Bible.”

As an afterthought, Friedrichs added, “When I came to City on a Hill we walked through rediscovering our mission, vision and core values.  One of our stated core values is being ‘kingdom focused’ meaning, it’s not just about our kingdom, it’s about Christ’s kingdom.  Therefore, we cooperate with whoever and whenever to work for God’s Kingdom in our community and beyond.  My people are excited and this move is an expression of that value.”

Embracing many faiths and reaching out to many backgrounds Carlton hopes he will hear.

“We are going to the place where good things happen.  Some of those things will be Culpeper Baptist and some of them will be City on a Hill and so forth,” said Carlton recognizing that there are several different congregations worshipping in a building that is in a central location and can provide needs for a variety of faiths.

Ann Yeaman, a member of Culpeper Baptist since 1964, recently weighed in, “It’s about reaching out to the community.  We are a very large church and if we can help each other we should.” Open and optimistic, Yeaman is excited about adding a fifth church body to the mix.

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