New Mosaic Church to be like a “stained glass window” through acceptance & accommodation of people
Red Bank/White Knoll, SC – 05/01/2021 (Paul Kirby) – Pastor Derrick Liferidge is the son of a Black minister. His father spent his professional career ministering to an all-Black congregation and as a boy, that was what church looked like each Sunday for Derrick.
As he grew into a man, Derrick was also called into the ministry. Although he preaches and teaches about the same God and from the same bible his father did, Derrick believes strongly that it’s time for church to take on a new look and feel. As an intelligent man, he also knows that can only happened if there’s not only invitation but accommodation as well.
When he married, he was wed to a woman who’s White. Now they have their first child who’s mixed race. “I guess you might say we were more inclusive than some other families,” he quipped. His personal life has taught him so much about other people and their unique differences.
Derrick remembers a quote made by Dr. Martin Luther King while making an appearance on the Sunday news program Meet the Press many years ago. Dr. King said, “Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hour, in Christian America.” In reflecting on that quote, Derrick recalls his father’s congregation on Sunday mornings. He also looks back on the last local congregation he ministered to. Although there was some mixing of the colors of people’s skin at his last call, for the most part, that church was all White. Now, he wants to minister to a congregation that takes on a mosaic of colors and shapes and simply accepts and accommodates people as they are. He envisions a congregation that is much like that stained-glass window. Each piece, each congregant, will be unique in color, shape, personality, and social status and all will be accepted, welcomed and accommodated as is.
Of course, Dr. King was correct then and by in large, more than 50 years later, Sunday morning is still the most segregated time in Christian American. The only difference now is that there are more people who have skin that is neither white nor black. The population of America has a growing, changing demographic of brown skinned people of Hispanic and South Asian heritage and a rising population of Asians and other heritages that have a unique color, traditions, and manner of their own.
Over the last months, Derrick and a group of other church leaders have joined together and are starting their own church. After searching for the correct name, they decided that Mosaic Church would most describe what they envision as a church that would please God. “Church should be like that stained-glass window,” Derrick said during a recent interview. “It should be made up of all different shapes and colors of people who come from different place and backgrounds with one common goal. They all are seeking a greater knowledge and a closer relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ.”
Throughout any conversation about the new church and the thoughts behind it, you’ll hear Derrick use the words invitation and accommodation in the same sentence many times. Eventually, most with a healthy curiosity will ask him why those words are important. When asked, Derrick is patient as he explains, “There is no proper invitation without accommodation.” “To us as leaders,” Derrick said, “accommodation means change. We can’t expect to invite someone new to the church and ask them to change to be like us. We have to be willing to change to accept them as they are.”
When asked how a church can accommodate a congregation of so many people with different colors, heritages, and backgrounds, Derrick explains the accommodation should be visible the minute that someone steps foot in the church. “If you walk into a church and the greeter is of one color or race, the entire leadership up front is all of one color, that’s not very accommodating. If all the music is led by people of the same color, the prayer and benediction are offered by people of one color or a heritage that’s different than yours’s, it will quickly make you uncomfortable and leave you feeling alienated. It’s just the way that people are. Eventually most stop coming.”
When God brought Mosaic’s Leadership Team together, He called two Blacks, two Whites, and a Hispanic to join and form the church as its leaders. Likewise, the Praise and Worship Team will be made up of different people of various ethnicities and backgrounds from all over the world. “God has already provided people from the US, Central and South America, and across the world to be a part of this,” Derrick said. “We will have contemporary music lead by a contemporary team that have come together from very different backgrounds,” he concluded. “it won’t be hip hop or anything like that but it will be more contemporary than the churches of the past.”
Derrick is quick to explain that the color of a person’s skin is not the only difference that should be accommodated. He pointed out that politics, likes and dislikes, one’s level of education or how much money they make, also fosters division in America.
He tells the story of an encounter he had with a homeless man. The man had not been showered since it last rained. He wore all the cloths he owned on his back, had slept outside, and had no money in his pockets. “This man told me he was offended, offended, when a man asked him to join him at his church on Saturday morning for a Men’s Ministry Breakfast. I have to admit I was confused at first but quickly came to understand how someone could be offended by inviting them to come and eat free, hot food with people that genuinely are trying to welcome him,” he continued. “This homeless man has been invited to come and sit beside men who are freshly showered and shaved, who smelled of cologne and were wearing nice, freshly laundered clothes. That homeless man was expected to feel comfortable. They’d give the homeless man attention, provide him with love, food, be as welcoming as they could be but that’s not accommodation that’s alienation. He stills knows how different he is as long as he’s surrounded by these very different people.”
Derrick doesn’t then envision the other men coming in rags or not showering to attend the meeting either. “I would not expect them to do that any more than I would expect a White man to come and try and talk and act as if he were raised in a Black or Hispanic home. I’d simply ask everyone to come as they are, comfortable, casual, what every makes them feel included.”
Most pastors refer to the church as the body of Christ. The bible teaches that a man’s body is not fully useful without a head, legs, arms, feet, hands, and a back to hold it all together. Just like each of those parts of your body requires the others to be complete, a church’s congregants are all part of the body of Christ. “It’s like a coat of many colors,” Derrick said. “Each piece is just a scrap of colored cloth until they are sewn together. The church is exactly like that. It’s a mixture of different people of all shapes, sizes, and colors until you bring them all together and join them as one. When you truly sew them together for the same purpose, learning about and praising God, then they become a beautiful thing.”
Please keep in mind that Derrick and the other leaders haven’t purposefully gone out and recruited a congregation based on their race or differences. If you really think about it, most active Americans come in to contact regularly with people who are different than they are in many ways. Mosaic’s leaders believe that an invitation should be extended to all. Already, several hundred different people have said they will attend the church’s first service Sunday afternoon. They have been holding social gatherings at an individuals home to fellowship. Those have been very well attended.
The church will meet in an existing Christian church called Covenant Community Church across from Saxe Gotha Elementary School starting May 2nd. The services will begin at 4:00 p.m. because the existing congregation who owns the building uses it on Sunday mornings. On July 1st, the congregation will move to Carolina Springs Middle School's Performing Arts Center for their service. Then, services will change to 10:00 a.m. each Sunday.
If a truly multicultural church interest you or you would just like to check Mosaic Church out, you can locate them at 1302 Old Orangeburg Road, Lexington, SC beginning tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. If you have questions about the church, you can reach Derrick Liferidge who will be glad to answer all question you have. He can be reached at mosaicsc.org.