By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MEMPHIS — In 2006, Impact Baptist Church began as a church plant of Bellevue Baptist Church in nearby Cordova in the living room of its first pastor, Michael Ellis and his wife, Angela.
The church began with 22 people and now averages between 175-200 people on any given Sunday.
Impact Baptist had strong ties with Bellevue and was meeting in a church building (formerly Georgian Hills Baptist Church) owned by Bellevue in the Frayser community of Memphis until last December.
Ellis, who was elected president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in November, noted that Bellevue informed them that they wanted to go in another direction by starting a satellite congregation in Frayser.
West Frayser Baptist Church, only a few minutes from where Impact was located, offered to share its building and in January of this year, Impact Baptist relocated.
God set the move up, Ellis said, noting that it came about with a relationship he already had with Victor Waits, pastor of West Frayser.
The move has benefited both West Frayser and Impact, Ellis said.
“They opened their doors to us with no stipulations. We saw what needed to be done and we did it,” Ellis said.
Impact has helped with some improvements to the building at West Frayser. “It (the move) has been a blessing to all of us,” Ellis said.
The two churches hold separate worship services but come together every fifth Sunday. Ellis and Waits rotate preaching responsibilities on those Sundays.
In addition, Impact has maintained a “great relationship” with Bellevue, Ellis added, noting that Bellevue provided some funds to help with renovation at West Frayser Baptist.
“God gave us an opportunity to expand our territory,” Ellis noted.
The church truly is impacting its community.
Impact Baptist has been given a barber college, several houses, and even a community center in order to meet needs in Frayser and the nearby Northaven community.
Those ministries are under a separate non-profit ministry that was organized by the church, Ellis said.
Impact has a strong working relationship with the mayor of Shelby County who has helped the church renovate several properties for its ministry.
A local business gave the church a vacant lot near one of the busiest intersections of Frayser. The church occasionally has block parties for the community on that property and allows a ministry which provides free ultrasounds to set up a mobile clinic on the property on a regular basis.
Ministries of the church include a food pantry, baby stores, and more.
Even the barber college is used as a ministry. The gospel is shared there with students and the ministry provides scholarships to students who attend a church regularly.
Ellis noted that each ministry is led by a member of Impact. “I have good folks around me. God has given us good servants,” the pastor said.
The help is a blessing for Ellis who teaches part-time at Martin Luther King High School (formerly Frayser High).
Ellis commits his time to teach an environmental science class. It has worked so well that the mayor of Shelby County is considering a campaign, “Clergy in the Classroom” which would get ministers into the schools in their community.
The classroom experience has been positive for Ellis and has enabled him to be a positive influence.
Ellis observed that Impact Baptist is living up to its name because it meets needs.
“Just preaching on Sunday and teaching on Wednesday won’t get it done,” Ellis said. “It takes more than preaching and teaching to reach people. They will be saved by the gospel, but we have to include some chicken bones and spaghetti and pay a few utility bills along the way,” he said. “We have to meet needs.”
He knows everything Impact has done would be impossible without God. “He has blessed us.”