Today is not only the patronal feast of our Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, but we also celebrate the anniversary of its dedication in 1923, by Bishop John B. Morris, of Little Rock. We had a bi-lingual Mass at 11 o'clock followed by a parish pot-luck lunch. This evening we'll be having solemn vespers and I have invited the ministers of the downtown churches to attend and their congregations. It is always nice, and we have a reception in the parish all afterward. Dr. Loomis from First Presbyterian is preaching for us this evening.
It has not always been that ecumenical here in El Dorado. There was, and is, still much anti-Catholicism amongst the rednecks. However, the downtown churches have worked together for many years. First it was the annual Holy Week services between the six churches. One church gets a year off, since these services are only for the weekdays of Holy Week, but the ministers take turns preaching in the other churches. I've preached in all of the downtown churches now over the years. They include First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First Methodist, First Christian, St. Mary's Episcopal, and Holy Redeemer.
The next thing that got us working together was Interfaith Help Service (IHS) that has been a way for us to pool our contributions to the poor and have some system to take care of those who come to us for help. This has been going on for over ten years now, and has been a great help, and a great success.
Shortly after starting IHS, we began the Interfaith Clinic to provide a place where the working uninsured could come see a doctor or dentist. This grew so quickly that it was finally signed over to the Share Foundation here in El Dorado to manage.
Then, over the years, we have kept up our weekly ministers' discussion group. We've studied documents from the WCC, the Vatican, joint Catholic-Anglican and Catholic Mennonite documents. It has been very rewarding to see how similar we are, but how very divided that we still are. No amount of glossing over will ever hide the facts of our divisions. We still try ourselves to come to greater mutual understanding, and it, at least for us, has paid off.