Hogansville pastors trade pulpits in effort to foster racial harmony

Published 9:30 am Saturday, July 15, 2023

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For brothers in Christ Pastor George Bailey and Pastor Greg Morris switching churches in July and December is an act of unity in the name of fellowship. 

Bailey, a local from Hogansville, is the pastor of White Oak Grove Baptist Church, a majority Black church in Senoia. Morris is the pastor of First Baptist Church, a majority White church in Hogansville.

The idea to switch pastors for a Sunday originated from Morris.

“My church anniversary is in July and his anniversary is in December. In honor of the occasion, I said, ‘Hey, how about you come to me in July for my anniversary, and I’ll go preach for you in December?’ Bailey thought it was a good idea, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” Morris said.

This year is the fourth year they’ve swapped places in honor of their church anniversaries. The church service Bailey will be pastoring will be held on Sunday at 11 a.m.

“Pastor Greg reached out to me about four years before the pandemic. He was always a good friend and brother, and I’ve known him for a long time. When he told me about this idea, I had to join him,” Bailey said. “When he comes out, he brings such great fellowship. Church has been a lot of fun and a lot of people come out and mix the culture.”

Bailey said he thinks the most important part is how the church looks on Sunday. He said when they get together everyone all blends together and are one in fellowship.

“For people, Sunday morning is usually segregated time in terms of worship service. We come together for everything else but Sunday morning everybody does their own thing. But since we’ve been doing this, I think it gets bigger every year,” Bailey said.

“People love it,” Morris said. “There’ll be people here Sunday I haven’t seen since Easter or Mother’s Day because Bailey was coming. There isn’t anything heavy about what we do — ain’t nothing heavy but the Lord Jesus in the Bible. There’s just a lot of love in what we’re doing.”

Morris said doing the church switch has allowed both of them the chance to reach other people they normally wouldn’t get the chance to.

He said there would be times Bailey would be able to connect to someone in fellowship he couldn’t and times where he was able to reach someone Bailey couldn’t.

“We try to put forward a fellowship that isn’t Black or White,” Morris said. “We try to bring the spirit of unity with prayer and fellowship.”

The pastors said the biggest difference in switching churches is the music. Along with switching pastors, the churches take their choirs with them.

“There’s a special dynamic in seeing an all-male choir sing praises. I think he has one the best men’s choirs I’ve ever heard,” Morris said.

Bailey said switching churches has made churchgoers feel closer and welcomed to join their church.

He said people have started to feel more comfortable coming to his church in Senoia and experiencing church a little differently than what they might be used to. The same has started happening for Morris in Hogansville.

“They will say to me, ‘Pastor Greg, can you pray for my grandson?’ Now, I’m no longer the White guy from Troup County, I’m Pastor Greg, who can help someone’s grandson come off drugs,” Morris said. “That’s probably the biggest thing from my point that I’ve experienced in doing this. It’s a blessing to be able to communicate with everyone, and I pray we keep it going.”