On April 1, 60 attended the first preview church service at the high school. While adults and youth met for worship in the school auditorium, children's church and a "full nursery" cared for young worshippers, Stewart said. Of the 60 attendees, 20 were "new faces, definitely prospects," and others were members of the Hills of Grace launch team, some who live in Box Elder and have committed to attend the new church start one year.
In July, 52 Floridians will ride a charter bus from Citrus Springs to Box Elder where they will conduct Backyard Bible Clubs and host neighborhood block parties. The church drama team, Heirborne, will perform at Hills Alive, an annual Christian rock concert in Rapid City attended by upwards of 50,000, and in Main Street Square, also in Rapid City.
"We see the July trip as a real impetus in building interest in the church there," Stewart said. "It is part of our Kingdom ministry. God has called us to go through every door He opens for us."
In addition to sending mission volunteers, North Oak is contributing two percent of its undesignated gifts to the church start. It also is sending Stewart to Box Elder for two weeks bi-monthly to help with the project. When he travels north, he also is mentoring the pastor of New Beginnings Church in Rapid City, whose building North Oak volunteers re-roofed and painted last summer. The church is in a transitioning community, and its membership largely Native American, Stewart said.
Stewart said he and his wife, Kathy, hope to spend more time in South Dakota after he retires in a few years.
"I want to be used there wherever they can use me," he said.
Meanwhile, the preview services in Box Elder continue monthly until Oct. 7, the target date for beginning weekly services.
Carolyn Nichols is a newswriter for the Florida Baptist Witness (www.gofbw.com).
Tullos First Baptist reaches out
to community with compassion
By Morgan Tarpley
TULLOS, La. (Baptist Message) -- Over the last few months, the congregation of First Baptist Church in Tullos has performed quite a lineup of service to the community. The congregation's latest outreach was on March 24 when there were donations given out of household items, shoes, clothing, tools, toys and other items.
More than 30 families were assisted through the ministry's giveaway day.
"Tullos First Baptist reaches out to the community with compasssion for those in need," church member Joan Martin said. "The response was overwhelming . Around seventy women and men attended the function."
Martin said during Christmas, the church and the surrounding community donated money to purchase Christmas gifts for children in the community.
"One boy was asked what he wanted for Christmas and his response was 'a pair of tennis shoes'," Martin said. "That really touched our hearts. He received a great pair of tennis shoes plus more."
Martin said some of the items donated were a stove and a water heater, which filled desperate needs for elderly women in the community.
Martin said she and the church congregation extend thanks to Chuck's Convenience Store in Tullos for their help and also to Carrie Long for her assistance.
The Ladies Sunday School class called "Mixed Blessings" has a burden for helping women and children in the area.
A number of local women came to the giveaway. She said the congregation was able to minister to them and find out exactly what they needed - whether certain items or prayer for their emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
"The church will do its best to provide for these ladies," Martin said. "We look to God to provide us to help those in need."
Martin said the church as always looked for ways to serve the community, but in the past few years there has been even more of an emphasis and church-wide involvement.
"God has given us so much. We love helping others!" Martin said. "This has been an awesome ministry already in its second year to reach out to those that are lost and in need."
Martin said the church will hold another Give-Away this fall and extend the invitation to the community.
"We look forward to seeing you," Martin said. "If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ to Him be the Glory and the Power for ever and ever!"
Reprinted with permission from the Jena Times. Morgan Tarpley is a contributing writer for the Baptist Message.
Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net