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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – Pastor David Hawkins is an East St. Louis native. He’s watched Living the Word Church grow over the years. The congregation hopes to soon worship in what was an old country and western bar in Collinsville. The church purchased the building and recently received a $100,000 donation to help with renovations.  

That donation came from The Crossing, a church with several St. Louis County locations. The Crossing and Living the Word Church have partnered in a variety of ways for the past 15 years. Projects have ranged from street cleaning to providing clean water in Africa. Both churches feel the relationship is an important one. 

“Anytime you begin to do life together with somebody who’s different than you, you get different perspectives,” said Pastor Randall Littleton, The Crossing. “You get different histories and you begin to create a shared history together.” 

The donation is viewed as racial reconciliation by both churches.  

“I think we are better when we are more diverse,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins believes the longstanding partnership is a critical step toward bridging racial divides.  

“We don’t have to wait before a major event to then say, ‘Let’s come to the table,’” he said. “We can literally have some prework done that’s authentic.” 

“I don’t think it stops at churches,” said Littleton. He believes if families, businesses and community organizations would work to build relationships with groups of different backgrounds, the benefits could help address some of the divisions the St. Louis region has seen. 

“You really take a step back and have more of a regional view,” Littleton said.  

Hawkins hopes Living the Word Church will be able to hold services in their new location in about a month.