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America has been called a melting pot of different races and ethnicities. But there are problems with the melting pot mentality.

First, melting and heat go together, and there have been too many times that differences between groups produced heat and smoke, with distrust, hatred and violence as side effects.

A second problem with the concept is that even when such problems are absent, much that is rightly one’s heritage gets lost.

In my own family, for example, there is a story that even though my great-great-great-grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, he could still speak only a few words of English when he died in 1835. But no one now knows what language he was speaking. Some family members assume it was Gaelic, though without any real evidence. And there is a question mark since our last name, Fariss, is actually an Arabic name. Either way, the uncertainty represents a lost heritage.

We all know that racial and ethnic tensions have been a problem in America over the years. Charles County has experienced this in the recent past. I have heard numerous anecdotal accounts, and there have been racially motivated crimes here, such as arson. But there was a time when people of different races and ethnicities regularly worked together, met together and socialized together without such tensions.

That happened in the early church where you might find Africans, Middle Easterners, Asians and Europeans in the same church. You could find a member of high society such as a justice of the Supreme Court of Athens or someone in Caesar’s household alongside of farmers, shepherds, tradesmen, merchants and former streetwalkers. There were Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, all together, all there for the same purpose: to worship the God who revealed himself. This was the genius of the early church.

We at Trinity Baptist Church believe that the example of the early church can and should be re-created right here in Waldorf, and furthermore that our various heritages should be remembered and celebrated. Every heritage has contributed to what is America and what is church in the 21st century.

We will celebrate Cultural Heritage Day. We will blend various styles of worship and follow that with a “unity meal.” We will have a speaker, the Rev. James Dixon Jr., who is a missionary for African-American church development with the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware and pastor of El Bethel Baptist Church of Fort Washington.

The public is invited to join in the celebration at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 26. Bring a favorite dish celebrating your background and heritage to share.

John H. Fariss and Ebonie Davis, Waldorf

The writers, respectively, are pastor and youth minister of Trinity Baptist Church.