Everything Mountain Creek Baptist Church does is connected in some way with the Cooperative Program.
The Cooperative Program reflects what being a New Testament church is all about, according to David Shirley, pastor of the Greenville, South Carolina, congregation. "Acts 2 talks about helping those in need. The better you work together, the more people you can help," he said.
"We want to do our part, but the Cooperative Program doesn't start with us and it doesn't end with us," Shirley noted. "We're just a part of it, a part of the way God is using Southern Baptists to reach out and touch people around the world."
Mountain Creek gives 11 percent of its members' undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program and another 4 percent to local missions through the North Greenville Baptist Association.
Church members also go on several mission trips each year. In May they're set to go to Hungary and in June to Thailand. Also in June and again in July, they'll be going back to New Orleans for the fourth and fifth times to help Iglesia Bautista Getsemini, the church they adopted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Mountain Creek also reaches out to its community in western South Carolina with seasonal events such as a block party in April that will include — among other attractions — NASCAR vehicles and the chance to change a tire at race speed. In addition to major events at Easter and Christmas, in the summers the church hosts community sports camps, kids camps, and Vacation Bible School, and in late October, a fall festival that has drawn nearly six hundred people.
"We're excited about what God is doing in the life of our church," Shirley said. "We want to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ in everything we do."
Warehouse employee Wayne McJunkin said he felt his Christian life blossom when he started using his hands for the Lord.
"I wanted to be part of it [the church's second mission trip to New Orleans]," McJunkin said. "This is the Lord's work. We are His hands."
Auto parts salesman John Lawless, on his second trip to help Getesemini, agreed.
"I wasn't going to come, but the closer it came time to, I just had to," said Lawless, who worked with electrical components at the Getesemini church, which Mountain Creek had first help gut and now is rebuilding. "I had to help our brothers and sisters get their church together again."
Mountain Creek was among the first churches to sign up to adopt one of the New Orleans churches as part of its Cooperative Program focus, Shirley said. A team assessed the situation the week before Thanksgiving, and a team was back a couple of weeks later to get started on what they realized was a Herculean task.
"We were absolutely amazed at the extent of the damage," Shirley said. "The first time, one of the drums was still hanging on top of one of the overhead speakers. There was nine feet of water [in the auditorium]."
During their second trip, Mountain Creek members took everything — furniture, books, carpet, and more — from inside the church and put it on the street, sprayed the interior with mold-killing chemicals, pressure-washed the exterior bricks, and began removing Sheetrock.
"Our first impression was to demolish everything," said Brad Kelley, Mountain Creek's associate pastor. "But this was their church, and we know how we feel about our church."
Mountain Creek also sent love offerings to ravaged Getesemini church, and the women had a household shower for pastor's wife Romy Rivera. The pastor and his family lost everything in the flooding that followed Katrina.
About three hundred and fifty people attend Sunday morning worship at Mountain Creek, which was founded one hundred and ninety years ago. A slideshow of the church and its ministry to youth, children, families, senior adults, and community can be seen on its Web site: www.mountaincreekbc.org.
"Our vision theme is 'Looking up and reaching out,'" Shirley said. "Drawing near to God as we reach out to our fellow man."
The Cooperative Program is central to the vision, Shirley said.
"You can't give enough," he said. "The Cooperative Program supports missionaries around the world, helps seminary students continue their education, and it gives us an opportunity to reach around the world, literally."
Mountain Creek also has a house it reserves for the use of furloughing missionaries.
"Having them at the missionary house and being involved in our church when their schedules permit allows us to visually see the difference our Cooperative Program giving makes for the Kingdom of God," the pastor said.