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What we can learn by crossing the denominations of faith

By Laurent S. Grosvenor
Special to the American-Statesman
The Rev. Laurent S. Grosvenor was born in Manchester, England, and since 2018 has served as the lead pastor of Alpha Church, a Seventh-Day Adventist congregation in Austin.

I shall never forget the first time I heard the Rev. Dr. Charles Edward Booth preach. I was in my teens, and I had never heard such preaching in all of my life. It was powerful, relevant, impactful, historical, poetic, and biblical.

Years later, I was introduced to him by a friend who was in seminary with me. As we were in his office that evening after a revival service that was held at his church, Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Columbus Ohio, he asked me a round of questions: “What’s your name? Where are you from? What seminary are you attending?”

This was a memorable occasion, meeting and conversing with this stately, eloquent and debonair gentleman who took the craft of preaching seriously.

During this first meeting, I don’t recall saying too much except answering without demonstrating my nervousness, the several probing questions that he asked. The impact of our conversation made it clear that from this moment on, Booth would hold a special place in my life and in the formation of my growth and ministry. I was welcomed into his life with open arms.

When Booth found out that I was of the Seventh-Day Adventist denomination, he began to recall a few names of SDA pastors he had either preached for or interacted within various places. He asked for updates on where certain persons whose names he had not heard in a while were now serving. For Booth, denominations were never something that prevented him from fellowship and friendship.

Unfortunately, we have a plethora of denominational aloofness that takes place in our cities and towns today. Much of the hesitation comes from firstly an ignorance that is pervasive in the pulpit and the pew, and secondly, the arrogance that is also pervasive in the pulpit and pew.

I have come to understand that while being cognizant of one’s own fundamental beliefs, ecclesiastical structure and liturgical practices, there is a commonality in purpose and mission that transcends denominational boundaries. “This same Jesus” that was born, lived, died, resurrected and now intercedes, did not do it in a greater degree for Baptists, AME, AME Zion, COGIC, SDA, Church of God, Presbyterian, Catholic, or any other denomination. God is in perfect equilibrium for all people in all seasons.

I have always possessed a thirst for knowledge and deep hunger for learning. This pursuit led me across denominational boundaries. I write today as a 32-year-old Seventh-Day Adventist pastor having preached the gospel in some of the largest Baptist, Methodist, Church of God, Disciples of Christ and non-Denominational Churches in this country and others.

The last time I preached for Booth (nine months before he transitioned from labor to rest), I had a feeling that it would be the last time I would preach at his invitation. He had wrestled with health challenges for a few years. There’s not a week that I don’t think about my late mentor, Dr. Charles Edward Booth — not because of his powerful preaching, not because of his stellar pastoring, not because of his classy demeanor, but because he allowed a young Seventh-Day Adventist preacher to be a part of his life, his family, his circle and his ministry.

May we seek to break down the denominational walls that separate us and strive to be united, while also respecting differences, but realizing we have a great work to do in reaching people and winning them not to our denomination, but to God.

The Rev. Laurent S. Grosvenor was born in Manchester, England, and since 2018 has served as the lead pastor of Alpha Church, a Seventh-Day Adventist congregation in Austin. Doing Good Together is compiled by Interfaith Action of Texas, interfaithtexas.org.