By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
ARDMORE — A small country church “in the middle of nowhere” is doing quite well as it continues to rebound from an off year due to COVID-19, says pastor Michael Cothren of Kelly’s Creek Baptist Church.
This summer, Kelly’s Creek held camps for youth and children and the result was 11 decisions for Christ at camp and three more who made decisions in the aftermath of camp.
As a result of some other salvations, Kelly’s Creek recently baptized 18 new believers in the Elk River, Cothren said. Among the believers was his daughter, Laken, and some of the family who own the land adjoining the river where the baptisms were held.
For the year, Kelly’s Creek has had 20 baptisms, a huge increase from the one baptism the church had in 2020.
What’s more, the recent additions have come while the church is remodeling its sanctuary and is meeting in the gym. “This has happened while we have been remodeling and everything is in chaos,” the pastor observed. “God moves in the chaos. It has been a fantastic summer.”
Cothren noted the church has been wanting to remodel for quite some time. The church was established in 1865 and has been in the existing building since 1962, he said. The church wanted to begin the work last year, but COVID-19 halted those plans, he added.
Despite decreased attendance last year, members continued to give their tithes and offerings, Cothren said, and added that some “generous donations” were given specifically for the renovation project.
The church began remodeling in April and hopes to have it completed in early September. The effort will increase seating to about 150 people and add additional seating for the choir.
Because the sanctuary was out of commission in August, the church held the baptism in the Elk River, about three miles from the church.
The river baptisms are not uncommon, Cothren said. “We usually baptize in the river when someone requests it, weather permitting,” he said. “This year we had no choice.”
Cothren is proud of the church for bouncing back from COVID-19. “Our church took a hit with COVID,” Cothren said. Among three members who died of the disease was his dad, Roger Cothren, who served as pastor of the church for 20 years before retiring in 2016. His son, who was then associate pastor, became pastor of the church where he was reared.
He noted the congregation is excited and has rebounded well. “The baptisms and salvations have reenergized our church,” he observed. The congregation is on fire and ready to share the gospel within the community, he added.
The pastor noted the church is back to its pre-COVID attendance. “We are averaging about 80 to 85 and I foresee that when we return to the sanctuary, we will get back to that 100 mark,” Cothren said.
“The Lord has been good,” the pastor acknowledged. “For a little country church in the middle of nowhere, the Lord still knows us, and that is such a blessing,” Cothren said.