CANTON  What do you get when you cross a white Mennonite with a black Baptist?

Some pretty good music.

At 4 pm. on April 9, the choirs of Jerusalem Baptist Church and First Mennonite Church will unite for a concert celebrating Jerusalem's 71st anniversary.  

It isn't a gimmick. The concert is just the latest chapter of a long friendship between the two congregations, who worship just blocks apart. 

Carol Dickey, chair of Jerusalem's anniversary, said their friendship began in the late 1990s when one of their members, the late Wylie Currence, used to volunteer at Lighthouse Ministries, First Mennonite's neighborhood outreach program at the church at 1935 Third St. SE. 

"We had a memorial service and they (Mennonites) came," she recalled. "Our choir sang, and afterward, one of the members said 'I want to sing like you.' I said, "And we need your discipline.'"

The two choirs got together and performed several concerts. However, it's been eight or nine years since the last one, Dickey said.

During the upcoming concert, Dickey said each choir will perform three of their own songs, then sing together on two.

"The music is so different," she said.

 First Mennonite member Lorin Byler participated in the first concert.

"I've been a part of the choir every year we've had it," he said. "I wouldn't miss this."

Vicki Hogan, a member of Jerusalem, said she wants people who attend to come away with more than just a concert experience.

"I hope people see that two different churches can fellowship together," she said. "Why is that? Because God is the same at Jerusalem Baptist as he is at the Mennonite church. We want to be an example in the community because music has a way of bringing people together regardless of faith or ethnicity." 

Dickey said Jerusalem's choir has performed at First Mennonite's sister church in Hartville, and that First Mennonite has brought visitors to their services to experience a different style of worship.

"Our pastor, the Rev. Kennedy Denard, wants us to be very involved in the community," she said.

 Among those signing is First Mennonite's new pastor, the  Rev. Sean Swanson.

"They talked about I when I was interviewing," Swanson said. "I'm very excited to be a part of it."

Darin Nissley, director of the Lighthouse, said Jerusalem has provided volunteers and financial support for 20 years.

"They've always been a welcoming and interested congregation," he said. "They've always been active in the community, so it just makes sense."

Jerusalem is at 1909 Third St. NE. The concert is free. 

Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or charita.goshay@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @cgoshayREP