'We are more powerful together': How a desire for Christian unity filled a city park

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People sing songs of praise at "Unite OKC," a community worship service led by City Night of Worship, on Sunday Sept. 11, 2022, at Scissortail Park.
People sing songs of praise at "Unite OKC," a community worship service led by City Night of Worship, on Sunday Sept. 11, 2022, at Scissortail Park.

Attendance at the gathering far exceeded expectations, so much so that organizers ran out of the Communion supplies they had purchased for 2,000 attendees.

Amy Frazier, founder of City Night of Worship, heard about the shortage, looked out over the crowd at Scissortail Park and realized that "Unite OKC" had done as its name implied. The evening of worship that City Night of Worship (also called CNOW) led on Sept. 11 had brought together thousands of people of different races and ethnicities from different areas of the community and various denominations.

As the event unfolded, Frazier felt that her vision from the Lord had come true. She said about 20 years ago, he had shown her a diverse group of Christians filling a building as large as the Paycom Center, all worshipping together. The park setting that Sunday night was different from her vision, but the unity, love and goodwill emanating from the crowd was the same.

"There's just something special about coming together," Frazier said. "It's like being in heaven because there's no denominations there and we're all going to be at one voice praising God. Well, we got to witness a little bit of that at Scissortail Park. And I think that this is just the beginning."

A 'beautiful evening'

Frazier said casting the vision for Unite OKC took lots of effort because City Night of Worship, the nonprofit, nondenominational ministry she'd started to bring together worship leaders for mentorship and discipleship, was only about a year old.

But it didn't take the team of 14 worship leaders long to figure out that the time had come to bring the Christian faith community together in much the same way they had come together — across the denominational lines and other barriers preventing unity.

Frazier and others involved with the evening of worship said many churches and groups were ready for such an event.

"We have seen a hunger for God’s people to come together in worship, centered around Christ," she said.

Unite OKC was deemed a success because an estimated 6,000 people showed up for collective worship and prayer. Frazier said her organization partnered with Kimray, Westmoore Community Church where she serves as worship leader and Timber Creek Fellowship Church in Norman which each donated funding for the event.

Other partners included Salt and Light Leadership Training, particularly the organization's executive director Ingrid Lewis; March For Jesus; Hope For A Change; Beautiful Restoration; Bikers For Christ; Crossings Community Church; All Saints Community Church; New Covenant United Methodist Church in Edmond; Emily Blood from Burn 24/7; First United Methodist of Oklahoma City; Freedom Church in Piedmont; KLOVE Radio and many other churches and groups who canceled their individual Sunday evening worship services and gatherings to join with Unite OKC.

The evening included songs of worship and praise led by City Night of Worship and a special Unite OKC Choir. The groups led the crowd in singing a song written by Marcy Priest especially for the event. Bikers For Christ coordinated with five Christian motorcycle groups to attend the gathering. Frazier said members of the faith-based biker organizations helped share the Gospel with event attendees and they also registered people interested in joining their groups. Gideon International representatives distributed free Bibles and Hope For a Change coordinated with homeless ministries and gave out clothing and sacks of food and hygiene items to the homeless.

Wes Lane, founder of Salt and Light Leadership Training, described the event as a "beautiful evening."

"It was inspiring to me to see all those people turn out from so many different churches and backgrounds," he said. "I think it's just an indication of what's taking place in our city right now. There's just a increasing spirit of the church unity."

Kaylene Balzer, co-founder of Beautiful Restoration, shared similar comments. The Edmond-area ministry provided volunteers to pray for people in the crowd who sought spiritual support. The group also connected people with members of the faith community for ongoing discipleship.

"We believe that Oklahoma City is a city on a hill and that there's a revival that's going to start here," Balzer said. "We believe that people in other states and cities will come here eventually, before long and they'll say what are you guys doing? Because what you're doing, we need to go back to our cities and do it."

Balzer said she could tell that people felt welcome at the recent worship event and she also noted that they were of different races and from different denominations. Beautiful Restoration, she said, has similar diversity and that's one of the reasons she understood Frazier's vision for the special evening.

Future plans

Frazier said the City Night of Worship group hopes to welcome more members and plans are in place for a retreat in November. She said the group wants to have another Unite OKC event in Scissortail Park in 2023. And she thinks local churches will join in the effort just as they did for the recent inaugural event.

"I feel like our Church really does want to get together," she said. "After COVID and after all these other things that have happened to keep us apart, I think there's a craving for this. We are more powerful together than we are apart."

Frazier said secular organizations come together and draw large enthusiastic crowds to support their causes and there's no reason that Christian groups can't do the same thing − for the cause of Christ.

"Why can't the body of Christ do that?" she said. "Well, we can."

To learn more

City Night of Worship, or CNOW, holds worship events on a regular basis at Coffee Slingers Roasters Shop at 1015 N Broadway Ave. For more information about future events, go to www.citynightofworship.com.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Unite OKC event draws crowd to Scissortail Park for worship