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I wanted unity to be the future of the church

Tyler Jenkins' diverse friends inspired him to pursue an uncommon unity that transcends barriers. Press play to hear his story.

As a kid, Tyler Jenkins remembers hearing some people say, “It’s a sin to go to a white church.”

But deep down inside, he knew that was wrong.

Jesus wanted unity, not segregation and the prejudice that often comes along with it.

“Jesus wants, includes, and invites us all,” he says.

Tyler grew up in a black church on Anderson’s west side. He got connected to NewSpring’s student ministry through a diverse group of high school friends who met weekly for Bible study at Chick-fil-a.

One drove a beat-up, hand-me-down vehicle. Another a newer Chevy Suburban.

Some were athletes. Others were into music.

Four were white, and three were black.

“It wasn’t this group that all looked alike,” he says. “I thought, ‘If NewSpring was anything like this, this is something I can be part of.’”

'A Kingdom Thing'

When the time came to commit to NewSpring, the conversation with his longtime pastor was the hardest. His family was still rooted in that community.

“People from my own church were asking, ‘Where are you?’ on Wednesdays,” Tyler says, referring to the night of Fuse. “My decision was about belonging where you can grow.”

The black community’s concerns come from a real and valid place, Tyler says.

Would the black experience be known, understood, and valued? Would the black community feel invested in?

But Tyler felt called to be part of the solution, not perpetuating the past.

At NewSpring, that meant embracing discomfort personally; having conversations; developing trust; showing that black people were welcome and belonged.

Tyler’s mom, grandmother, aunt, and three cousins now attend NewSpring with him.

“It’s not a white church thing or a black church thing, but a kingdom thing,” says Tyler, who is a student at NewSpring Leadership College. “If there’s anything black people need, it’s to fall in love with Jesus Christ.”

In the South, racial reconciliation remains a priority for progress.

But uncommon unity is much more than black and white, Tyler says.

Building a community around the name of Jesus is about bringing together all ethnicities, interests, ages, and economic statuses.

“It’s a unity that transcends all barriers with an eternal focus,” Tyler says.

The makeup of NewSpring Fuse and Rally, a ministry to 18- to 25-year-olds, gives him encouragement for the future, he says.

“People are starting to notice that everybody they hang out with is not the same,” he says.

Press play to watch Tyler talk about his experience.

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