LEGACY LIVES ON THROUGH HISPANIC CHURCH

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

William Burton, church planting strategist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and volunteer church planter at Esperanza Church@ Harpeth First Baptist, speaks during a recent worship service. — Photos by Lonnie Wilkey

FRANKLIN — Missions and helping new churches have been a way of life for Earl and Violet Newcomb since the mid-1950s when they helped start the first of six churches at what is now Cross Keys Baptist Church in College Grove.

Earl Newcomb served as song leader while operating a business in Franklin and Violet served as pianist and church treasurer.

Their mantra has always been, “Lord, open the door and we will go.” [Read more…]

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CHURCH GIVES FACILITY FOR HISPANIC CHURCH

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

God’s Gathering Place, Chattanooga, recently became the East Ridge Campus and Community Center of Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga. Standing in front of the former sanctuary of God’s Gathering Place, are, from left, Dennis Culbreth, director of missions, Hamilton County Baptist Association; Dwight Millsaps, former pastor, God’s Gathering Place; and Micah Fries, pastor, Brainerd Baptist.

CHATTANOOGA — God has worked through what most people would call a failure, says Dwight Millsaps, former pastor of a small church, God’s Gathering Place, in Chattanooga.

Though the church disbanded several months ago, recently God’s Gathering Place gave its facilities worth about $1 million to Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga, to meet a need of that church.

Brainerd Baptist needed more space for its Hispanic Congregation. Other positive factors are that the neighborhood has many Hispanic residents and the two churches are located only about a mile apart, though on different sides of Interstate 24.

[Read more…]

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FBC POWELL BEGINS REVITALIZING SECOND CHURCH

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Leading the revitalization efforts at Norwood Baptist Church Campus, Knoxville, of First Baptist Church, Powell, are, from left, Phil Young, director of missions, Knox County Association of Baptists, and church revitalization specialist, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board; Tim McGhee, pastor, Norwood Baptist Church Campus; Phil Jones, preaching pastor, First Baptist, Powell; and Kemp Wynn, pastoral care minister, Norwood Baptist Church Campus.

POWELL — At least two models of Baptist church revitalization exist — a sponsoring church can absorb the congregation, developing a campus of the sponsoring church, or the sponsoring church can bring in another congregation to use the facility of the declining congregation.

It is rare for the revitalized church to retain its identity and be given back its autonomy.

However, this occurred in January as First Baptist Church, Powell, saw First Baptist Church, Fountain City, revitalized after a 10-year process and returned to being an autonomous church. [Read more…]

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GHOST TOWN CHURCH SEES HOLY GHOST REVIVAL

By David Roach
Baptist Press

Faith Christian Fellowship in Organ, N.M., has seen 500 percent growth over the past four years despite its location in an area classified as a ghost town. -Photo by Joe Seale

Faith Christian Fellowship in Organ, N.M., has seen 500 percent growth over the past four years despite its location in an area classified as a ghost town.
-Photo by Joe Seale

ORGAN, N.M. (BP) — With numerous dilapidated buildings and only 323 residents according to the 2010 U.S. census, Organ, N.M., appears on at least one website listing American ghost towns. But Pastor Mitch Newton prefers to think of it as a Holy Ghost town because of the surprising work God has done through the town’s Baptist church.

Over the past three years, Faith Christian Fellowship has grown from five worship attendees to more than 25. The congregation has baptized six people over that span, with three more baptisms scheduled for the coming weeks.

On one occasion, a man jumped in the baptistery while his 80-year-old parents were being baptized, professed that he also wanted to be saved and was baptized with them.

“God is so faithful,” Newton, 71, told Baptist Press. “… He is doing the whole work. I don’t do anything. I just open my mouth” after a week of study and preparation, “and we let the Lord take it from there.” [Read more…]

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CHURCH GIVES FACILITY TO CHURCH PLANT

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Phil Young, left, director of missions, Knox County Association of Baptists, based in Knoxville, visits with Jim Florea, church planter, Forward Church, Knoxville, in the church’s new sanctuary, which formerly was Gayland Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville.

Phil Young, left, director of missions, Knox County Association of Baptists, based in Knoxville, visits with Jim Florea, church planter, Forward Church, Knoxville, in the church’s new sanctuary, which formerly was Gayland Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE — Phil Young hoped the meeting would go well. He was going to meet with Gayland Heights Baptist Church members to discuss options. The congregation had declined to a very small group of older members.

Young, director of missions, Knox County Association of Baptists, proposed several revitalization ideas, including sharing their facility with a church plant or beginning church. Of course, the church could close and give its property to the association.

Thankfully, the meeting went very well, he recalled. The small group was very open minded, said Young.  [Read more…]

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NASHVILLE NATIVE PENS AUTOBIOGRAPHY

By David Dawson
Contributing Writer, B&R

170313jim-henry-bookNASHVILLE — As those who have spent their lives in the ministry can attest, the phrase “retired pastor” is often a misnomer, perhaps even an oxymoron.

That is certainly the case for Nashville native and former Tennessee Baptist pastor (Two Rivers Baptist Church, Nashville) Jim Henry.

The former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Henry definitely hasn’t been sitting around with his feet propped up since his retirement in 2006 — unless it was sitting in airports or vehicles getting to his next assignment.  [Read more…]

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CHURCHES EXEMPLIFY RACE RELATIONS

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Lonnie Wilkey

Lonnie Wilkey

They stood together at the pulpit of Rialto Baptist Church in Covington on Sunday, Jan. 15 — Thomas Bester, a 63-year-old African-American pastor, and Carl Funderburk, an almost 80-year-old Anglo pastor.

As I watched them I could only imagine the stories they could tell from having witnessed first hand the racial strife of the civil rights movement in the 1960s-70s. On this occasion, however, these two pastors were united under the spirit of the God that both have faithfully served for decades. [Read more…]

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CHURCH DISPLAYS KINGDOM VISION

Forerunner Baptist to open Covington campus at Rialto Baptist

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Participating in a joint worship service of Rialto Baptist Church, Covington, and Forerunner Baptist Church, Ripley, were, from left, Thomas Bester, pastor, Forerunner Baptist; Carl Funderburk, pastor, Rialto Baptist; and Clay Gilbreath, director of missions, Big Hatchie Baptist Association.

Participating in a joint worship service of Rialto Baptist Church, Covington, and Forerunner Baptist Church, Ripley, were, from left, Thomas Bester, pastor, Forerunner Baptist; Carl Funderburk, pastor, Rialto Baptist; and Clay Gilbreath, director of missions, Big Hatchie Baptist Association.

COVINGTON — The handwriting has been on the wall for years at Rialto Baptist Church in Covington.

The almost 100-year-old church once was a vibrant congregation with more than 200 members. But as the community transitioned, many members moved away. Many of those who stayed have since died.

As of Jan. 15, Rialto Baptist had about five members plus pastor Carl Funderburk and his wife Jane. Funderburk, 79, has been pastor of Rialto for 14 years. In 2005 Funderburk led his then congregation of 13 members to make plans should the church eventually have to close its doors. [Read more…]

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REVITALIZATION CAN MEAN ASSIMILATION

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

The staff of the Cumberland Church community campus of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church includes, from left, Ruth Patraw, secretary; Chad Crawford, pastor; and Steven Hoover, worship pastor.

The staff of the Cumberland Church community campus of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church includes, from left, Ruth Patraw, secretary; Chad Crawford, pastor; and Steven Hoover, worship pastor.

KNOXVILLE — Once a strong, vibrant congregation, Cumberland Baptist Church here had fallen into hard times over recent years as attendance had dwindled from nearly 400 in its heyday to between 70-100  people.

Two issues were readily seen — the church had few young families and those who attended no longer reflected the neighborhood.

Bob Brown, church revitalization specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, began working with the congregation about two years ago. Brown was very familiar with the church, having grown up in the congregation. [Read more…]

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CHURCH REVITALIZATION MORE THAN NUMBERS

80-year-old pastor proves age is not a factor in reaching younger families

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Jerry Heflin

Jerry Heflin

SPRINGFIELD – The numbers may not reflect it, but Eastland Heights Baptist Church in Springfield is truly being revitalized, says Pastor Jerry Heflin.

And, what’s more, the church is being revitalized by an 80-year-old pastor who has a knack for connecting with people of all ages.

After Heflin retired in 2006 as associate pastor of First Baptist Church, Goodlettsville, he became pastor at Eastland Heights the following year. [Read more…]

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