A Note from a Pastor
This month our congregation celebrates eighty-two years of God’s leading and blessing. It is amazing to think that what began with a small group meeting in a living room in 1939 has become a congregation of hundreds meeting in a multi-million-dollar facility. As someone who has been involved with this church since childhood, I echo the oft-quoted sentiment from Psalm 118:23, “This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Like others, I have fond memories of our church from decades ago…when homecoming meals were outside events, with food bowls scattered on plywood sitting atop saw-horses, when VBS was a morning event, and when it took all night to cook Brunswick stew. For much of its early existence, the congregation was numbered in the dozens and the start of service was announced to the neighborhood by the ringing of a brass bell.
Over the decades, there have been lots of changes, including a new facility, and lots of people. However, the most important things have not changed. The Bible remains the unshakeable core of truth, which is proclaimed with purpose and a conviction that everyone needs to be born again through personal faith in Christ. The intention then, is for every person to grow and mature in their spiritual life. It’s also been a constant that people have unselfishly worked to minister to others and serve the Lord, always exhibiting Christian grace and love. Over the years, the testimony of the congregation has remained welcoming, echoing the sentiment that this is “a church where a visitor is never a stranger.” This is true because the Gospel is best displayed when people are gracious, committed, concerned, and willing to give of themselves to both evangelize and encourage others. While it was from the pulpit and in the classes that I learned the essentials of biblical truth, it was in the people that I saw the evidence of grace that saves and grace that serves. It is obvious that biblical preaching and teaching, blended with the faithful lives of committed church members, is a combination that was, is, and always will be a successful formula for a healthy and strong congregation.
Of course, this is not just true of our church or of our generation. Born again believers in the New Testament were called beloved of God, called to be saints; sanctified in Christ Jesus; faithful in Christ; God’s elect, holy, and beloved. One Church historian wrote of the earliest Christians as deserving our respect and affection, for their testimony was one of steady faith, meek patience, and courage to maintain a good testimony. He further said they exhibited an enduring self-denial, labors of love, and an abundance of charity, all with reverent care of the Scriptures (Taylor, Ancient Christianity, Vol. I).
It is right to remember the past, and in doing so, to praise the Lord for His evident and abundant blessings. This is especially true during the unusual and trying times of COVID, where the Lord has shown himself strong on our behalf. However, we dare not spend all our time looking in the rear-view mirror. We must keep a sharp eye to the road ahead. Truly, the Gospel message needs to go forward with unmistakable clarity. The children at our feet must be faithfully taught God’s word, especially during this time when there is an abundance of false teaching. Yet, they need to see faithful Christian role-models, who, whether at home or at church, exhibit self-denial, love, charity, and reverence for the Scriptures. Additionally, a generation around us needs to know Gospel Baptist as place where there are authentic Christians living out biblical values.
While the future is unpredictable, may we always strive to be sure the constants that have made our church healthy and strong continue to be the priority as we strive to be faithful in serving the Lord and the needs of the church. Let us move forward into that unpredictable future keeping in mind the words written by the Apostle Paul to a congregation centuries ago in Philippi, Greece, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Dr. Harlie Miller, Associate Pastor