Kentucky church sees ‘Gospel cannot be stopped’
By Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — COVID-19 has presented a problem for Ormsby Heights Baptist Church that other churches should want.
Pastor Chad Fugitt said the church can do only five baptisms a service, because of the need to maintain social distancing within the church audience and allow families and friends to witness the celebration.
Only five baptisms a service.
“Our in-person attendance is rising but we have to do strange things to keep our attendance right,” he said. “When we baptize people, we are limiting the number of baptisms to five per service, so we don’t get overrun with guests in that service. We want people to be able to invite friends and family and not feel pressured about being too close to anybody.”
Most churches would be overjoyed with five baptisms in a month, let alone each service, and especially so since the uninvited COVID-19 pandemic put a chokehold on everybody’s services and attendance.
“We just feel really blessed and encouraged about how the Lord is moving despite all the hardships we are walking through as a country right now,” said Fugitt, who was able to baptize five Aug. 9 who came forward after attending a Connect class for new members. Eleven more from a group of 75 in the Connect class also joined through letters.
Fugitt doesn’t wear a mask when he preaches but does slip one on for the invitation to let people know it’s OK to come forward if the Lord is urging them.
“You can’t extend the right hand of fellowship, so I created this cadence. I say, ‘Repeat after me: All y’all, we’re happy that you joined the church.’ Then they repeat that, affirming their decision and welcoming them the only way we can right now through that cadence. I did it on the fly one time and, ever since then, more people are joining, so we do it over and over again.”
Missions center brings new life to former church building in rural Alabama
By Grace Thornton/The Alabama Baptist
ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (BP) — Standing in the parking lot of what used to be Mount Olive Baptist Church — a very rural church — Craig Carlisle knew he was a long way from a grocery store.
“They had borrowed a car just to get there,” said Carlisle, director of missions for Etowah Baptist Association. “In this rural area, there’s a lack of transportation, and it’s a food desert too.”
The western fringes of Etowah County — the Altoona and Walnut Grove communities — are “almost like a wilderness, in some regards,” he said. The area is bookended by Dollar General stores, and it’s an even longer way to a Walmart or supermarket, especially when you don’t have a car.
That’s why, when Mount Olive Baptist voted to close its doors earlier this year, it didn’t take Carlisle long to come up with an idea for the building — the Mount Olive Missions Center, an annex of the association’s already existing center.
“Coming 20 to 25 miles to the association’s ministry center is prohibitive for them,” he said. “The Lord has given us an opportunity to get a presence out there.”
And on July 30, they had their first food distribution — that’s where Carlisle met the women in the borrowed car. He and Emily Hamilton, the association’s compassion ministry director, and other volunteers made other connections that day, too.
“We were able to minister to nine families who needed food and one little boy who needed underwear,” Carlisle said. “Underwear and socks are one of the greatest needs for children out here.”