The most segregated hour in America.

The most segregated hour in America. 

That’s what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called Sunday mornings, calling attention to church congregations divided by race. 

That is not the case for one Sneads Ferry church.

The way into a recent Sunday service was welcoming at Faith Covenant Church. An array of people — black, White, Asian, some sporting tattoos, others with brightly colored hair and piercings, greeted one another with hugs and handshakes.  

That’s the vision for the church, according to pastors Jamie Simmons and Andre Persun.

The church should reflect heaven, which is full of all people, Persun said. He said churches are typically “racially divided” and there were no fully integrated churches in Sneads Ferry. He wants to be the example that changes things. 

After Simmons’ church, Another Chance Ministries, shuttered, Persun invited Simmons, his wife and their congregation to join them at Faith Covenant Church. Simmons’ church was predominately black and Persun’s was predominately white. 

Gale Williams has been attending Faith Covenant Church periodically for almost seven years. The church has always been very welcoming to new members, she said. 

“We’re a mixed bag of everything. Everybody is just who they are,” Williams said.  

Church members are comfortable together and try to make new members feel the same. Williams expected a transition period — a period of “politeness,” she said — when the two congregations combined. But it hasn’t been like that at all, she added. There is no awkwardness, no distance. 

“It’s like we’ve been together forever,” she said, “like we’ve known each other forever.” 

Although each congregation is different and the cultures are different, the church has been “spirit filled” and there’s a “true affection” between all members of the congregation — old and new, said Williams. “I think it’s fantastic and it’s been going wonderfully,” she said. 

Devon Shepard, who was a member of Another Chance Ministries for three years, said she thinks the joining of the congregations was a good idea.

“Everybody is friendly. We mesh really well,” said Shepard, who enjoys the praise and worship at Faith Covenant Church as well as its members. She thinks every one from Another Chance Ministries feels similarly. “Everybody shows up every Sunday,” she said.  

Another Chance Ministries was Missionary Baptist “with a nondenominational feel,” according to Simmons. Faith Covenant Church is nondenominational Christian. Both churches had a similar atmosphere even though their styles were different, he said. For example, Another Chance Ministries had a choir while Faith Covenant Church has been using a band. Faith Covenant Church will eventually merge the two styles. 

“We are bringing everybody together,” Simmons said. 

They plan to have both a church band and a choir in which any member of the congregation can participate. If Simmons and Persun continue preaching together, their hope is that the congregation will follow their example, Simmons said. 

“Never before has a white pastor and black pastor come together on this level in this community,” said Persun. 

Simmons and his congregation were welcomed April 12. He is currently preaching alongside Persun and is scheduled to be officially installed as part of the ministerial staff today.

Simmons and Persun have many plans for their new mixed congregation and the Sneads Ferry community. 

“There’s a desperate need for outreach,” said Persun. Their developing plans include GED preparation courses, job training and bible study groups. 

Persun plans on having a multipurpose facility built near the church as soon as their land is paid off. The pastors want to encourage racial inclusion efforts and an end to discrimination in the entire Sneads Ferry community. 

“The church in America is still very racially divided and we see this in a great way in the South, and more specifically in our community. With racial tensions rising in our country, we believe God is bringing us together to be a beacon of hope to our community, region and nation,” said Persun.

Faith Covenant Church welcomes everyone, said Persun, including same-sex couples and singles. 

Persun said the church’s message is focused on God and on love, he said. 

“At the end of the day, we all love the Lord and we all want to serve, so why not do it together?” Williams asked.

Praise and worship is held at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings at Faith Covenant Church, located at 2449 Hwy 172, Sneads Ferry.

For more information, visit the facebook page Faith Covenant Sneads Ferry or the website

Or reach the church via email at