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Small Kentucky church sees 53 baptisms in pandemic

Trinity Southern Baptist Church has enjoyed revitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FALMOUTH, Ky. (BP) – When he was just 8 years old, Trinity Southern Baptist Church pastor Abram Crozier would walk up and down the streets of his Falmouth, Ky., neighborhood preaching from Isaiah.

“And then tattle on his brothers for not listening to God’s Holy Word,” his mother Karen Crozier recalled. “He’d bang on that Bible and he’d say, ‘Mom, those guys aren’t listening to me and I’m preaching God’s Holy Word.’ We even had pretend church in the back of the house with family just so that he could preach.”

In Falmouth, Ky., Trinity Southern Baptist Church pastor Abram Crozier, left, sometimes conducts baptisms in the nearby Licking River.

Abram’s parents Karen and Harry Crozier, who himself pastors First Baptist Church of Falmouth just one block over from Trinity, are not surprised that Abram is pastoring today.

They’re elated by the 53 baptisms at the church of about 150 worshipers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 31 baptisms this year and 22 in 2020. Another 72 members joined in addition to the baptisms in 2019 and 2020.

Trinity had dwindled to just 20 or so worshipers when Abram came on board in January 2019, after providing pulpit supply for the church for the month of December 2018. He quickly cast a vision of a “church on the move” and calls the revitalization a “God thing.”

“My love for the community has always just been there. I think that drives a lot of what’s happening,” Abram said. “I know the people. I love the people. I love the town.”

Church treasurer Joe Adams appreciates Trinity’s vitality and the excitement Abram brings. His call to the church as pastor was a unanimous decision, Adams said.

“We found out he was supply preaching and we got him to come here,” Adams said. “He is a Spirit-led man. He is very willing to let the Spirit lead him. … But the way he preaches is really what draws people. He just speaks the truth and that’s it. He don’t sugarcoat it or nothing. He will just flat out and tell you the way it is. I don’t mind getting my toes stepped on.”

Trinity Southern Baptist Church pastor Abram Crozier and his wife Becky have three sons.

Falmouth was devastated by a flood in 1997 when Abram’s father served on the ministerial staff of Trinity before he moved to First Falmouth in 2003. The flood killed five people in Falmouth and covered 80 percent of the town with water as the Licking River continued to rise.

The town of about 2,000 people saw great unity as it worked to recover, but Abram said poverty, drug abuse and blight were the flood’s collateral damage.

Trinity Southern serves the community wherever needed, helping residents move furniture and complete home repairs, serving students meals during Spring Break, supporting first responders and helping maintain community playgrounds. Abram has added a youth group to the church’s ministry. In place of worship one Sunday, the church went about the community cleaning it of scattered trash. The church completed minor renovations to its campus and doubled the size of its parking lot.

“I see the potential of what God can do in a place like this,” Abram said. The church “really got behind” the vision of serving the community and did “amazing things,” continuing through the pandemic.

Abram, who completed two years of undergraduate studies at Kentucky Christian University and hasn’t attended seminary, said he saw the pandemic as a ministerial challenge.

“I was actually excited throughout the pandemic because I finally felt like I was at an even playing field,” he said. “Nobody knew what they were doing, so I felt like everybody was kind of in the same boat that I was. We went through probably three or four months where we didn’t have any baptisms at all, because the church was closed for a couple of weeks and it took a while for people to come back.”

As worship resumed, Abram wore face masks and continued to baptize people in the church baptismal pool and in the Licking River, transitioning to two Sunday services to allow social distancing.

“We never stopped doing the altar call. I think sometimes as a pastor you get discouraged if nobody comes up at the end of the service, but we really pushed the altar call,” Abram said. “Every message that I do, I always point back to Christ. And then a big thing too, we have a lot of Catholics in our area, and so a lot of it was just explaining what baptism was.”

The new youth group has led to many salvations, with youth group participation averaging about 40 a week, Abram said.

Abram’s father involves First Falmouth in many Trinity events, which sometimes means joint worship services and programs. First Falmouth averaged about 45 in Sunday worship before the pandemic, according to the Annual Church Profile.

“He’s lit a fire under our little church,” Abram’s father Harry said, “because they’re trying to keep up with him.”

Early in Abram’s pastorate at Trinity, he and deacons discussed ways to grow the congregation.

“They were always talking about, ‘Well, if you kiss a pig, that could probably bring them in.’”

Did he kiss a pig? No.

“I always said if I have to kiss a pig on this Sunday, then the next week I’ll have to kiss a cow. And no telling what else I’ll have to kiss,” he said.

Abram squashed the dramatic gimmick.

“I didn’t want people to come to the church for a gimmick, because then they’ll leave,” he said. “If they don’t have another gimmick the next Sunday they won’t come back.

“And I knew that if we could get them there with the Gospel, that’ll keep them there. We’ve seen that too.”