Churches reconcile after 60 years

CUERO?The members of First Baptist Church of Cuero had a disagreement in 1947, leading a few years later to the forming of Calvary Baptist Church. Sixty-two years later, the two Baptist churches in Cuero?about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio?are reconciled and working together to take the gospel to city residents.

Glenn Robertson, now pastor of the First Baptist Church, and Bill Gleason, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, weren’t around when the split occurred. But they sought closure to past errors.

Two years ago, Gleason began to meet weekly with another pastor for the purpose of praying for Cuero churches. The group quickly began to grow and developed into a ministers’ alliance of over 20 pastors that reach across denominational and racial lines.

“We were praying about some strongholds in the city?things that were keeping people from coming to Christ,” said Gleason of one of their weekly meetings. “We had a map of the city on the floor, and in that prayer time God revealed to me there was something wrong. There was rebellion in [our] church.”

Gleason said Calvary Baptist Church became the recipient of a stained-glass window that was originally owned by First Baptist Church. After First Baptist split, the woman who donated money for the window left the church and asked to take the window as well.

“The pastor [at the time] gave her the window back and boarded up the space,” Gleason said, explaining that the window was later given to Calvary. “What had happened was our church had accepted the gift that was given to God at another church. That [window] was taken in rebellion. I felt we needed to do something about it according to Scripture.”

Gleason approached Robertson, who was also a member of the ministerial alliance. Robertson, who has led FBC for 16 years, said he was initially uncertain of what to do.

“I had to pray about it, think it through, and talk to Bill to get his heart about it. Once I sensed that Bill really felt like God has spoken to him about that, I felt I needed to honor that no matter what,” Robertson said. “He felt the stained-glass window represented a rebellious act against God and left a spirit of rebellion that had sowed through the seeds of generations. He felt like God was saying, ‘You need to address this publicly, because this was done in the public.'”

Robertson said the members of FBC were also uncertain in the beginning. “When we first began to talk to the churches, no one understood because none of our members had anything to do with [the incident],” he said. “That happened about 60 years ago, so no one could understand why we would take action on something that happened so long ago.”

But as Robertson began to pray about the relationship between the churches, he said God began to work.

“About the same time, in my office we’d been doing cleaning and renovating, and we came across the records of the split. I began to sense there was something that my church needed to address related to that split and the cause. And something that wasn’t handled properly here. If Bill’s church was going to make some public acknowledgement, then I needed to make the same acknowledgement for our church, both in the public.”

On Aug. 16, the two churches came together for a unity service held at First Baptist. Gleason preached from Joshua 7 and the sin of Achan, emphasizing that devoted things of God should remain in God’s house. At the close of his sermon, Gleason asked FBC members to forgive members of Calvary Baptist Church for taking and accepting a “devoted thing” that was given to God.

Robertson preached out of Daniel on repentance, asking for forgiveness for its role in the church split and the removal of the window.

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