By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – What one church starts, another church finishes.
At 8 a.m. Sundays, members of Impact Baptist gather in the small room of a former office building in Verona, and fill the six white, wooden pews to worship.
Two hours later, members of the Emmanuel Gospel of Grace Community Church do the same.
These two churches share one building, and for the churches’ pastors and members, the shared space makes them feel like one big family.
“I think of it as truly two churches in one, under a different umbrella,” said Pastor Jessie Gilmore of Emmanuel Gospel of Grace.
There are a few obvious differences: Impact Baptist is a Missionary Baptist church, while Emmanuel Gospel of Grace is interdenominational. Impact’s pastor is male, and Emmanuel’s is female. But those differences mean very little when it comes to praising God.
“It really doesn’t matter. Your body is the temple. Your body is the church. We’ve got church in the heart, regardless of the building,” said Pastor Michael Fant of Impact Baptist. “We’re in the same family.”
“Our beliefs are the same. It works out,” she said. “We’re brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Gilmore’s church has gathered in that building for more than 10 years, and she’s often allowed other churches to share the space with her. At one time, there were as many as two other churches sharing the building with Emmanuel Gospel of Grace. Right now, it’s just her church and Impact, which began in Amory but had most recently been meeting in a hotel in Tupelo. Impact has been sharing space with Emmanuel for about a year now.
“It’s a good connection, a good unity, a good fellowship,” Fant said.
The two churches get along so well, they don’t even fuss over time.
“If they go over, we stay late,” Gilmore said, laughing.
On many Sundays, members of Gilmore’s congregation flock to the church early, so they come in while Fant is preaching. Fant welcomes them. They participate in Impact’s services, and then stay on through the morning to hear Gilmore’s sermon.
Linda Tallie of Saltillo did just that last Sunday – singing, worshipping and praying with Impact, and then singing, worshipping and praying with Emmanuel. The love and spirit of God that Impact brings forth is then enjoyed by Emmanuel, she said.
“I love it,” she said. “The presence of God is already here, and the whole building is full of glory for God.”
As the two churches’ members come and go, there are hugs and words of love passed among them.
“There’s just a lot of love,” Fant said.
Impact Baptist is working on finding a permanent home, but for now, home is also home to another church. It suits the members of both churches just fine.
“We’re the same family,” Gilmore said, “We’re just under different umbrellas.”