First Baptist Church, Fairhope - 9/25/2011

This past week, Denise and I attended a PLACE workshop and training in Fairhope, Alabama.  The training equips 'coaches' to administer a variety of profile tests -- personality, spiritual gifts, talents, etc. along with noting significant life experiences, to determine where a person is best suited to serve.  So many of God's children are walking around serving in areas of their church that they're not passionate about, but just to fill a need.  If servants aren't plugged into the areas they were designed by God to fill, then they're not going to feel they're fulfilling their purpose, and likely will look for another church. 

We enjoyed the two-day training session immensely.  Since it occured on a Thursday/Friday, Denise and I decided to make it a long weekend and enjoy the local flavor.  Fairhope is a beautiful town and we took pleasure roaming its streets and shops (well, Denise enjoyed the shops) on Saturday.  Sunday, we decided to return to the host church of the PLACE conference, which was First Baptist Church, Fairhope.

The church itself has been a part of the downtown Fairhope landscape for over a hundred years and has seen it's share of trials, from hurricanes to flooding to fire.  At one point in the not too distant past, a terrible building fire shut down their sanctuary.   They held worship services offsite, and continued to hold Sunday school and other programs in the education section of their church.  As you might imagine, having to deal with the two locations took its toll, and the church struggled with growth.

Now, though, you'd never know it happened.  The church is quite beautiful and they run two worship services; an early, traditional service, and a later, contemporary service, with Sunday School in between.  Since we had to travel that afternoon, we opted for the earlier service.  Their choir, orchestra and children's choir were all in full force that morning and the music was wonderful.  The church is in the middle of a building campaign -- to build a new education building and add more parking -- and the pastor, Dr. Jerry Henry spoke that morning on passion of service and participation.

For Sunday School, we headed over to Rev. Brent Shaw's class.  Brother Brent is the Minister of Education and Administration for FBC Fairhope, and was the coordinator for the PLACE Conference.  I've met him several times before in connection with ABREA functions.  Brother Brent's class was a fairly large couple's class, and we were greeted and welcomed in high fashion.  In anticipation of using PLACE at FBC, Bro. Brent is walking his class through a spirital gifts inventory.  Our time that day was spent exploring truths and dispelling myths relating to spiritual gifts.  Bro. Brent is a great speaker and we enjoyed his class very much.

While FBC Baptist is not a part of our Madison Baptist Association, we know that a lot of folks from Madison County vacation on the Gulf and perhaps in Fairhope.  This would be a great church to visit if you find yourself in Fairhope on a Sunday morning.

We also hope to have more on the PLACE training available to churches in our area in the very near future.

Bethlehem Baptist Church - 9/11/2011

Prior to today I had never been to a service at Betheleham Baptist in Hazel Green.  I make the specific reference to Hazel Green because we also have a Betheleham Baptist in Laceys' Spring. 

We were greeted by many different folks as we found our way to the main entrance--which was clearly marked I might add.  We chose to attend the 9:15 worship which was contemporary and very good.  I especially liked the song the praise team performed while the offering plate was being passed, "All My Tears".  A little something different here was that the worship leader was also the lead guitar player.  He did a great job!
We shook hands and were welcomed by many, including Pastor Lon.  Speaking of Pastor Lon, he and some other men have really helped us out in the past at Camp MACOBA, with mowing and some weedeating.  One time that I know of, he put on a pair of waders and got in the pond so he could get a better angle at trimming back some trees that had become overgrown. 

His message was a very evangelistic one and came out of the sixth chapter of Ephesians ... this man does not seem to lack passion! 
After the service we made our way to Barry and Myra's Sunday School class, where I met Steve Farrow coming out.  I really like Steve and he too has been up at the camp and we've also had lunch together.  He is also the one who recommended this particular class. The class was on the topic of marriage and family.  My guess is there were about 50 folks (generally couples) in the class with a pretty wide age span.  Both Barry and Myra did a great job and there seemed to be a good spirit residing there.  I look forward to another visit in the future! 

New Market Baptist Church - 9/4/2011

It is always a pleasure to visit New Market Baptist Church.  Pastor Don Schultz is really loved by the people there and I certainly understand why.  He has been up at the Camp a few times since we have been there and I have also had lunch with him before.  He is a very caring and dedicated servant of the Lord and is such a shepherd to his flock.  
If I am correct he is second only to Dr. Jackson at Whitesburg Baptist when it comes to tenure in the churches of the MBA.  Brother Don is also our reigning Camp MACOBA Lawnmower Race Champion! The people at New Market Baptist are also very friendly, especially Bill and Sara Rotenberry's Sunday School Class.  They usually have an outing or two up at the camp every year.  We missed Wells Johnson and his lovely wife Mary Jane, as they were on their way to see about Well's sister...please keep her in your prayers.  
As we drive by the church every day on our way into town it seems they are adding a new member or two every week.  God really seems to be blessing the work going on there!