SHIVELY, Ky. (WHAS) -- From the outside, St. Paul Baptist @ Shively Heights looks like many other churches, and inside is no different with the sounds of voices raised in song and sermon.

"Our theme today is honoring our past and preparing for our future," Associate Pastor Michael Bingham said.

It's the church's past that sets it apart. Now in its eighth year, this congregation that fills the pews used to be two separate groups.

"Singing is good. Preaching, praising is good," Rev. Lincoln Bingham said. "But if life doesn't match what we're singing and saying, then it doesn't have any effect."

It was eight years ago this week when Rev. Bingham's historically black St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church joined with the predominantly white Shively Heights Baptist Church, an uncommon merger made in an effort to combine resources and reach new members.

"When we came, some left. They weren't going to be a part of that," he said. "It didn't stop our love for them or our concern for them."

Bingham said while there was some pushback at the time, the leadership of both churches decided it was the right thing to do, both from a practical standpoint and a spiritual perspective.

Bingham says while there was some pushback at the time.. the leadership of both churches decided it was the right thing to do... both from a practical standpoint... and a spiritual perspective.

"There were those who questioned it, but I was moved by God for us to do that to show that God loves everybody," he said. "It's just a testimony of what things can be because of what they should be in the first place."

"Red, yellow, black, white, we all are equal in God's sight," Michael Bingham said.

With issues of race and stories of racial unrest on the minds of many in today's society, Bingham said his church can serve as a blueprint.

"There's too much hopelessness and helplessness in the world today," he said. "And if anybody should exemplify love for one another and cooperation with one another, it really should be the church."

"When people begin to see themselves as God sees people, I think that we will live in a better society," Michael Bingham said.