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Bluefield churches celebrate ‘Century of Friendship’

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BLUEFIELD, WV (WVVA) -- On Christmas Day in 1919, the Christ Episcopal Church went up in flames. The cause of that fire is still unknown, and the church was a total loss.

The growing congregation was left with no place to worship.

That's when the Immanuel Lutheran Church stepped in.

"When the smoke settled and the fire went out, Immanuel Lutheran Church was willing to host them and welcome them and bring them in," said Bishop Mike Klusmeyer.

For a year and a half, Immanuel Lutheran provided a place a place of worship for the congregation.

"I think that any time that Christians can come together and celebrate and worship and get along -- that's a good thing," said Reverend Chad Slater. "Christian history hasn't always been filled with examples of that."

The partnership between the two churches began a century of friendship -- one that is still alive and celebrated today.

"When I looked out into church I saw Episcopalians and I saw Lutherans," Klusmeyer said. "But more importantly I saw people who live in and around this community, coming together for one purpose."

"If I'm still alive 100 years from now, we will gather again and do this same thing," Slater said. "I just hope that this inspires us to do more things together. It might inspire the community to come together more frequently for the common good."

The two churches entered the Call to Common Mission in 1999 -- an agreement of full communion and cooperation between the two traditions. Both local churches say they are proud their congregations had a friendship more than 80 years before their denominational bodies.

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