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New congregation in Maine sparked by links to NOBTS

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The area covers approximately 33,000 square miles. The 1.2 million inhabitants of the timberlands speak more than 100 different languages, especially near the coast where seafood, particularly lobster, is the primary export to the world. Within the boundaries of this territory, there are a mere 15 Southern Baptist churches to reach the population, a ratio of one church for every 86,550 people. Only one in five people frequent any kind of church and less than two in 1,000 attend a Southern Baptist church.
Certainly Maine is a wide-open mission field for Southern Baptists.
Students of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary helped begin Maine’s newest Southern Baptist work — Living Water Community Church — in Waterville, Maine, 50 miles north of the capital city of Augusta, during a May 23-28 missions trip.
Now, the NOBTS continues through its new pastor William Galloway, a May graduate of the seminary. Galloway, his wife Melanie, and their two children moved from Marianna, Fla., to Waterville the first week of June.
The church has grown to from nine people at its inaugural meeting to 25 regular attendees, including a 30-year-old mother of three who has made a profession of faith.
“We are beginning to bond, become knit together in each others lives. We are always finding new ministry opportunities which God uses to open doors,” said Galloway of the outreach which has been meeting in homes. “Our short-range goal is to continue to minister with those we now are involved with and possibly duplicate this growth by mid-fall.”
Galloway, who worked in a bank full time while attending classes at New Orleans Seminary’s Graceville, Fla., extension center toward his master’s degree, is now able to minister full time due to strategic financial planning. Over a two-year period, Galloway secured funds and pledges for the church start and additionally is being assisted by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Our big challenge currently is to find someone to lead worship,” Galloway said. “The individual must be willing to view the position as a challenge. The people here are not the traditional church folk from back home.”
Will McRaney, associate professor of evangelism and church planting at NOBTS, led the group of 12, including his 11-year-old daughter, Blakeney, on a May missions trip to help launch the congregation.
The group primarily followed up on surveys which had been conducted by a college group earlier in the year. They were also involved in public awareness activities, handing out brochures for the new church, face-painting and balloon art in the park and sharing with parents near playgrounds.
NOBTS student Cavin Cawthon recounted being initially concerned about meeting with rejection and hostility.
“I went up there with the preconceived idea that we wouldn’t be well-received, that the people would shun us or downright ignore us. But they were some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. They were very receptive and open to us,” Cawthon said.
“It was an incredible experience,” said student Anna Wolverton. “There is an excitement in being part of something new that God is doing where there is a need.” The area is much like New Orleans in its Catholic-rich heritage. “We didn’t meet with much opposition,” Wolverton added, “but they were protective of their beliefs and history.”
“The impact that was made in the community by Dr. McRaney and the team that came to help is immeasurable,” Galloway said. “They did an outstanding job of soliciting and getting the word out about this new work.”
The seminary volunteers said they found themselves wanting to be more involved by the end of the week.
“The trip really ended up serving as a time of refreshing for me,” said student Tommy Glenn. “I went up there with the idea of trying to be a blessing to others and ended up being blessed by them. God continues to place on my heart people that we met, total strangers, to remember in prayer.”
Glenn, who served on a 1998 mission trip to Rhode Island with Galloway, saw the passion in Galloway’s service and was impressed with his heart for the area. “It excited me to go to a place to help someone who had such a passion to reach these people,” Glenn said. “We went on a prayer walk to different sites, including the house William and his family were moving to, just lift it up and give it all to God for his glory.”
“We need to promote more mission trips like this,” said Galloway, acknowledging the NOBTS student trip. “If you don’t go through it, you don’t really know what the challenges are.”

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  • Joe David Smith