Cornerstone Baptist Church (TN) - 2/5/2012

It used to be called Hilldale Baptist Church; now it's Cornerstone Baptist Church, which is actually located across the Tennessee line.  We decided to make this church our next in the visitation rounds after I spoke with Pastor Danny Green at the Transformational Church Conference we recently attended.  Ron Lynch had mentioned to me about the good work going on up there a few months ago. 

The church was very easy to find and we arrived shortly before 9:00 for Sunday School.  We were led downstairs where most of the classrooms were located, as well as the fellowship hall.  Everyone was enjoying some food and time of fellowship before things got started.  Many came up and introduced themselves and the pastor's wife, Sherry, was the first. 

Brother Danny gave us a quick tour of the downstairs before class started.  I went into a men's class taught by Leith Konyndyk, where we were in the final weeks of the Courageous Bible study.  He did a fine job and shared some illustrations from his own life.  Denise's class was taught by Sherry Green and they were also studying from a Courageous Bible study. 
After the bell for Sunday School rang we all dismissed and went upstairs to the sanctuary.  I noticed the place was in great shape with much room to expand as there was a balcony.  The music was contemporary and pretty good.  Brother Danny brought a message out of 1 Kings where the people were challenged to make up their minds on who to serve.  The message came after the serving of the Lord's Supper.  Afterwards Denise and I met with Brother Danny and a couple more of the church's leaders for a time of prayer and discussion concerning the possibility of us serving there.   

Wears Chapel Baptist Church - 1/29/2012

Though the temperature was still below freezing it was a beautiful clear morning when we arrived at Wears Chapel, off Ryland Pike.  I had seen Brother Rolland many times at the MBA Pastors' conference and he is also the main cook when they have their semi-annual fish fry events. 
Shortly before 10:00 we entered the building with another nice couple who directed us to where we needed to go.  Everyone met in the Sanctuary for a short period of assembly before dismissing to their respective classes.  Our class, taught by Jim Payne, met in an open section right at the back of the sanctuary, though not really part of the main area.  Our lesson came out of Deuteronomy and the theme was Generous Giving which most everyone could benefit from.  He did a good job and knew the Scripture and pertinent history well.  We then moved about forty feet to a seat in the sanctuary.   In the pew back in front of us was the church's A/C system.  Not really, but it sure did make for a great picture!
As we waited for the service to start, I was admiring the beautiful stained glass windows in the church. Many friendly people made their way over to greet us during this time as well.  We might have dismissed from Sunday School a bit early because just as we got seated in the sanctuary I heard a bell going off.  It sounded just like one of those old timey bells shaped like the liberty bell and that is just what it was.  Brother Roland informed me that his wife was ringing the bell to signal the end of Sunday School. 
Our message for the morning came out of 1st Corinthians and was connected to the Lord's Supper which we later shared.  When the service was over Brother Rolland and his wife came over and we talked for awhile about many things one being that he was about to celebrate his 20th year there.  He invited us to lunch and as much as I hated to, we had to take a raincheck as the afternoon would be filled with much preparation for Monday's events. Both he and his wife seem to be such great folks and he had a pretty good sense of humor as well.  I hope we get another chance to take them up on the lunch in the future.   

The Fellowship of Faith Church - 1/15/2012

I really did not know what to expect when we pulled up to Fellowship of Faith this morning around 8:00.  Brother Ron Lynch had suggested several weeks ago that we check them out, so I went online to look at their website earlier in the week.  The church has recently moved into their current building off North Parkway, close to Lowe's, and is running two worship services and Bible studies.  We pulled up to what looked like the building entrance and parked. 

I got out and asked a nice lady if this was the closest entrance to where the "Faith Institute"" classes were being held.  She told me that Faith Institute was their equivalent to Sunday School and we were already parked in a close spot. 
I don't remember the last time I was in a church made up of all most exclusively of our black brothers and sisters but it was a treat.  We were greeted by everyone in our path and then escorted to our respective classes.  Denise was in an all ladies class taught by Juarine Stewart.  They were studying out of the book Brave:  Honest Questions Women Ask by Angela Thomas.  Denise said she felt very welcomed and that the class's discussion leader was very personable, thorough and grounded in Scripture.  Denise also said it was one of the best ladies' classes she'd attended.

I was in a men's class taught by Marc Seldon.  Every single person in my class spoke to me individually and shook my hand. I believe there were twelve in the class.  Brother Marc did a great job and was teaching out of a book called "Point Man" which focused on how a man should lead his family.  Several of the men there read Scripture and shared some comments as well. 

When classes were over it was only a short walk to the sanctuary which I thought looked very nice.   The music was good and there was a baby dedication as well.  When the pastor called all the family up for the dedication about twenty-five percent of the whole church came up. 
Pastor Troy did an excellent job preaching on the heart and that not having our hearts right with the Lord is the root of so many problems.  We read much Scripture together and Pastor Troy was definitely filled with passion and energy.  He invited congregational participation and he sure got it!  At some point during the sermon he mentioned the membership being around 1,200. 

We went to the the early service and it was pretty much packed out.  As we were driving away Denise said would look forward to a return visit here some day.

Hayes Chapel Baptist Church - 1/8/2012

We cut it close but we did make it to Hayes Chapel on time this past Sunday.  I had spoken to Pastor Eddie Clardy a few times on the phone concerning some Camp business but had never actually met him before. It was raining when we arrived but folks were very helpful with opening doors and pointing us in the right direction. 

Before Sunday School began there was an assembly time where everyone gathered, prayer concerns were shared and prayed over, and a gentleman did a short devotion.  I remember the days when this was a normal part of church but rarely see it anymore.  It seemed that because of the holiday schedule this was the first time they had met, other than worship, in several weeks.  The children and youth left after the assembly time, but the adults remained where they were for Sunday School.  We were given the lesson for the week, which was from Psalm 18 and entitled, His Way Is Perfect.  The three mainpoints discussed were Our God Delivers, Our God Delights, and Our God Directs.  He was a very sincere man and you could tell the lesson came from his heart. When SS was over the men remained to pray while the ladies made their way to the sanctuary.  After about ten minutes we rejoined them. 

Lots of friendly folks came up and shook our hands most of whom had the last name of Clardy or White.  We sang several traditional hymns, most of which I knew, while Brother Eddie played the bass guitar. The congregation sounded pretty good.  There was no watered down message here as the Pastor preached like those I can remember from my younger days. He was very passionate and to the point, yet he also used a few personal illustrations as well.  We pass by this church all the time in our travels yet had never noticed it sitting back off the road, before.  I look forward to another visit in the future. 

Bevill's Chapel Baptist Church - 12/18/2011

Though our paths cross quite frequently with MBA events, I had never actually heard Pastor Benny Berry preach.  Regina, his wife, is the Financial Manager for the Madison Baptist Association, so I have dealings with her all the time and might I add that she is always very helpful. 

We arrived about 10 minutes early for Sunday School and it just so happens that it was Regina who pulled up to the door at the same time.  She helped us to get where we needed to go as our day began.  The class was friendly and after a bit of socializing we began the lesson.  The class was going through a book called Biblical Mathematics:  Keys to Scripture Numerics, that deals with the importance of numbers in the Bible.  It was interesting and I can't say that I had heard of the book before our visit.  Once class was over one of the class members helped us to find our way to the sanctuary for the worship service. 

The music was nice with the choir doing a special number and a trio doing another one.  Somewhere I have heard the trio before (perhaps at a special community service); they did a great job.  Regina mentioned something about her and Benny being here over 20, what dedication!  

When Brother Benny spoke with us it sounded like he had a cold but when he preached the message one could hardly tell.  He is a very soft spoken man but is very strong and sure when he brings the Word.  All in all it was a good visit and things seem to be going well at Bevill's Chapel. 

Mt. Zion Baptist Church - 12/4/2011

Yesterday we spun the wheel and it landed on Mt Zion as our next church to visit.  I know Michael Davis, the Minister of Education there and a big shout out to him as he will be graduating from New Orleans Baptist Seminary in two weeks !  I have also been to several of the weekly pastor meetings and an E-Board meeting or two at the MBA where pastor Ron Madison was present.  I had looked forward to hearing him preach as he seems to be a man of purpose. 

We arrived right at the time the first Sunday School was letting out.  A very nice lady greeted us as soon as we entered the building and took us to the welcome center.  There we were greeted again by several folks, filled out a visitor card and then escorted to a Sunday School class close to our age range.  The welcome center person introduced us to the teacher, Dwayne Jones, and then everyone in the class proceeded to introduce themselves.  A lot of organization here--nothing less than what I expected from a top notch Minister of Education like Michael.  After sharing prayer concerns and opening in prayer the teacher led a discussion out of Genesis.  He did a very good job, was very transparent and practical in his teaching.  It was also clear he had prepared well for the lesson.  Most everyone in the class participated at some point. 

The worship center was very beautiful and during the greet time Michael Davis made his way over to greet us.  Both the choir and the praise ensemble did a great job as well.  One thing I liked very much was how much space there was in the aisle.  Pastor Ron did a very good job bringing the message out of Hebrews concerning hope.  The points he made concerning the hope for our economy and our individual lives were spot on the way I see it.  I have heard many good things about Mt Zion and it appears they have good leadership there.     

Morningside Baptist Church - 11/20/2011

I guess the second time is the charm.  Last Sunday (11/13) we were on our way to Morningside, as a matter of fact were less than a mile away, when Denise began to feel really sick.  It was so bad that we turned around before getting to the church and headed right back home.  This Sunday we had no such episode and actually arrived ten minutes early.  Many times we take a few pictures of the church and specifically the church sign before we go in lest we forget on our way out. 
 After doing this I noticed what looked like someone I know from the Fire Department going in with his son.  As we approached the door we were happily greeted by several folks.  Once inside I inquired about Sunday School and a nice young man took us to our class...the one his dad was teaching.  I generally like to go to separate classes when we visit a church for several reasons but this day we would be in a couples' class together.  Mark Cowan was the teacher and he did a fine job with the lesson coming out of  the book of Hebrews, chapter 3.  Small world; Mark, who works for Sexton Welding Supplies, is the driver that delivered the welding supplies to where my wife used to work, so they knew each other.  There were some prayer concerns mentioned and then Mark prayed for every couple in the class. 

After class we made our way to the sanctuary and on the way I saw Erick (the guy from the fire department) in the hallway and spoke with him for a minute.  As we gathered to worship we saw and spoke with Darin and Christian Lightfoot who had recently been out to Camp Macoba with a group of youth from the church.  If you have never heard Darin and Christian sing it is quite a treat and I presently have their CD in my CD-player right now and have for the last month!  I guessed seating for about 200 here and noticed how really clean the place was.  Many of the churches we go into their size have from 50 - 75% elderly membership but this was not the case here.  It appeared to be around 40%.  There was also a first here for me....the pastor was actually part of the praise/team/band.  He sang and played the guitar.  The worship music was good led by Darin and Christian.  I meant to say something to the guy on the drums who did a great job as well. 
Brother Marty brought a message out of Daniel and really challenged the congregation.  This appeared to be one in a series of messages entitled, Courage Under Fire.  He spoke a lot about priorities and courage.  He held my attention the whole time, though it was a familiar message, by the way he communicated the scripture to the congregation.  This was the first time we had ever set foot into Morningside and I was looking forward to our visit as Brother Ron Lynch had told me good things about Brother Marty and the church.  I look forward to another visit in the future.