STANTON — From Ray Ellington’s perspective, Ford’s Blue Oval City has changed everything about Haywood County.
But it hasn’t changed his faithfulness to the Lord.
In the next few years, 90,000 people are expected to move to West Tennessee to work at the plant which is slated to become the largest automobile production facility in the nation in 2025.
That’s a lot of new customers for The Fork Restaurant, which Ellington owns.
Ellington, almost 88, has spent most of his life in Haywood County, growing up just a few miles down the road from the restaurant in the Woodland community near Brownsville.
One morning during his 3 a.m. prayer time, Ellington realized he could maybe do something to help the people who would soon be moving in.
“Maybe you could offer the facility to at least get something started,” he thought to himself.
He reached out to Grover Westover, pastor of Walnut Hills Baptist Church in Bells, and said he wanted to have an interdenominational prayer meeting once a month.
“We just gather the first Saturday of each month to pray for revival, pray for the lost and to pray for the folks that are coming here with Blue Oval City and for the folks that are already here,” Westover said.
Ellington provides breakfast of course.
Westover said churches in the Haywood Association are already making an impact on the new residents. One church has some construction workers attending. Another has made inroads at a travel trailer park where workers live.
Blue Oval City Partnership has a goal of four new church plants a year for the next 10 years in the seven-county area near the plant in Stanton.
One lease on a church property has already been signed, and the procurement of two other church buildings and a parcel of land is in process, said Danny Sinquefield, coordinator of the Blue Oval City Partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Ellington’s monthly prayer meeting will undoubtedly be critical to the success of these goals. He has a burden for the lost and a burden for revival, said Westover, who has known Ellington for 25 years.
“Who knows what God is going to do because of the obedience of one layman,” said Westover.
“Everybody can do something,” Ellington said. “You look at the things you can do and just walk the walk and talk the talk.” B&R