News Story

Two Faiths Find Common Ground at Vancouver, Washington Easter Concert

Methodists and Mormons join in following the example of Jesus Christ

For nearly a decade at this time of year a special Easter celebration has taken place, the “Life of Christ” event in the Vancouver Washington West Stake (group of congregations) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


“It was started to have people celebrate the Savior’s life,” said local Latter-day Saint leader Dean Barrus. “We wanted to invite people of all faiths who had belief in the Savior too to come and join with us in that common belief.”

With that in mind, the West Stake reached out to another Vancouver faith, the Community African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, to share in a unique opportunity. The Sr. Pastor of AME Zion Church graciously accepted.

“It doesn’t matter what denomination you’re from,” said Reverend Joyce Smith. “If we know Jesus that’s the most important thing of all.” 

On March 21, a capacity audience of congregants from the two groups joined together at a 500-seat Vancouver auditorium to worship Christ through music.

The special two-show concert included a gospel band from Tennessee joined by the Community AME Zion Choir. 

“The fact the choir was going to come and sing with us  that takes our music to another level,” said Dan Truman of the Nashville Tribute Band.

Truman says that "level" started in a prayer meeting with the AME choir prior to the concerts that had a profound effect on his band mates.

“We were all in a circle holding hands and we start singing with them, and I look around and there [are] different guys in our group, … and there [are] tears coming down [their faces] because… it was so beautiful… and spiritual.”

The choir sang several gospel hymns and invited the congregation to sing, sway and clap with them. The band performed songs from their album, “Redeemer:  A Nashville Tribute to Jesus Christ.” Ninety-two-year-old concertgoer Joan Bowe remarked, “It’s the best thing I have ever been to.”

“It’s all God’s children just getting together,” said Reverend Smith. “What a time, what a time! And we saw a little of that, … and for that I will be forever grateful to the Latter-day Saints.”

What started as a way for two faiths to join in common worship of the Savior Jesus Christ will also enable the AME Zion Church to use proceeds from the concert on some much needed improvements for wheelchair access to church restrooms.

“We were going, with the economy like it is, through a shortfall,” said Reverend Smith. “And so when I heard about the Latter-day Saints giving us the benefits from the concert, it just made my whole world and it was an answer to prayer.”

On the following day the band was invited to Sunday worship services at the AME Zion Church.

“I wanted them to see the setting where we have our services,” said Reverend Smith. “And I also wanted them to participate, and that’s exactly what they did.”

“It has turned out wonderfully,” added Latter-day Saint leader Dean Barrus, “It’s very unifying to everybody, and we’re just all excited to participate together in this worship of the Savior and it feels really good.”

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.