In what could be described as perfect timing, one church seeking a home and another with space to spare have come together under one roof.
"(Love Unlimited Ministries congregants) were looking for a place to temporarily worship," said the Rev. Dr. Robert Manzinger, of First Baptist Church in Williamsport. "We invited them in. The longer they stayed, we found out we liked each other."
Love United Ministry Co-Pastor Dorothy Anderson, who leads with Senior Pastor Willie Anderson, said she hopes they can inspire other churches in similar financial situations to follow suit.
"We had a need and they were willing to meet our needs in a Christian level," Dorothy Anderson said. "I would hope this would be a model."
That model can be expanded to more than just congregations of different races working together.
"We're crossing racial lines, but we're also crossing denominational lines," Manzinger said. "A lot of churches only work within their own denominations."
They began sharing the space in late January, and last month they signed a five-year covenant to share the property at 420 Elmira St. together.
"Why not do it year by year?" Manzinger said some of his congregants asked. They decided to do five years "so they knew it was home."
Dorothy called the two congregations working together "Christian unity," with which Manzinger agreed.
"We can have a traditional white congregation and an African-American congregation get together, serve God, all under the same roof," Manzinger said. "There's an undercurrent of racism in this town like most communities. Different folk can get together."
"It's a true demonstration of God's love," Dorothy said.
Willie Anderson said he believes the congregations coming together was predestined.
"It gave the community an opportunity to forget their differences and come together as Christians," he said. "Thank God for First Baptist for opening up the doors and opening up their hearts."
Both congregations voted about whether they wanted to worship under the same roof. At First Baptist, 38 congregants voted for it, with two against. At Love Unlimited, all 28 congregants voted for it.
Manzinger explained that even the two people who voted against the covenant were not voting against sharing the space, but having a five-year covenant instead of just a year.
"We have not had one complaint," Manzinger said. "Especially not racially driven."
That is because the Christians in the area are very mature, Dorothy said.
"Our people overall are very pleased and excited on having a permanent place to worship," she said. "They're very comfortable with it."
In addition to being racially different, the churches are historically different.
Love United Ministries was founded in the Anderson home in 2001. It kept growing and growing until it became necessary to lease space to gather. It wanted to stop leasing and find something more permanent.
First Baptist Church has been here for 155 years.
Manzinger described it as a mostly older, traditional church, facing lessening numbers, which is why it wanted a creative use of space for the large building.
What Manzinger said will help their covenant succeed is two congregations of similar sizes.
The two congregations also are not just sharing the space, but worshiping together on occasions.
There are four fifth Sundays throughout the year, when the congregations "flip-flop" hosting services.
The next one will be in November and Love Unlimited will cook up a worship service and a dinner for both of them.
They also combine their youth ministries, with one of the First Baptist members teaching the children.
In the future, Manzinger said he would like to put meals on together for the community.