Churches unite, launch Medicine Valley ministry
Gospel comes to five rural north central Missouri communities
By Brian Koonce
June 14, 2005
TRENTON — As a 14-year-old girl, Mabel Rogers rang the church bell at Harris Baptist Church each Sunday calling the people of Harris to worship. Decades later, now the wife of a retired pastor, she and her husband, Lewis, are once again calling the people of this north-central Missouri town and surrounding communities to worship.
Lewis Rogers is coming “out of retirement” to pastor the newly incorporated Medicine Valley Community Ministry (MVCM). The church will serve the 548 families in the communities of Newtown, Harris, Osgood and Humphreys along a 20-mile stretch of State Route 139. MVCM was commissioned and accepted seven charter members June 5 at First Baptist Church, Trenton.
“This reestablishes Baptist presences in areas that seem to have been forgotten,” Rogers said. “We believe God has given us a mission for that area. There is not adequate representation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The Baptist church at Harris closed its doors about eight years ago. Several months ago, the Newtown Baptist Church disbanded. The creation of MVCM revives not only the presence of a Baptist church to spread the Gospel and disciple believers, it revives a church building. They are going to meet in what was until just recently the Newtown Baptist Church.
“Now it’s the Newtown Baptist Chapel, part of MVCM,” Rogers said.
Although the new congregation celebrated its first official worship service June 12, Rogers and several area pastors have been leading Bible studies across the Medicine Valley area for several months, bringing in 45 people. Easter Sunday, they held a “preliminary” service with 60 in attendance. Subsequent meetings averaged around 30. The last week of June, they will host Vacation Bible Schools in Harris and Osgood. Two weeks later, they will repeat it in Humphreys and Newtown.
Rogers said between the Bible Schools, backyard Bible clubs, the help of summer missionaries and the services at the chapel in Newtown, he hopes to build a sense of unity among believers in the area. The reason it’s called a “community ministry” is to “develop the concept to the people of the area that they are one community, and that we want to minister to them as a whole,” Rogers said.
The community focus is appropriate, considering that the church has been birthed and supported by other local churches outside the immediate Medicine Valley area.
“I’m excited. We don’t get to do this very often and we don’t do it enough,” said Dennis Chestnut, pastor of First Baptist Church, Trenton, one of five churches supporting the new effort. The others include the nearby Baptist churches of Salem, Shelburne, Laredo and Zion. Some of the pastors and members from those churches helped lead the Bible studies leading up to the start of MVCM.
Mabel said she began to have a heart for the area when she learned the Harris Baptist Church building was for sale.
“It wasn’t the building that I felt sorry for, it was the community,” she said. “God’s witness was not there any longer. When it sold, I knew that God had a place for me to serve in this community that needed a witness. This was a calling for us to go back and serve.”
Along with Lewis, whose father pastored the church in the 1950s, Mabel came back to the home of their youth to lead Bible studies in the community room of the fire station in Harris and in a home in Newtown, the beginnings of MVCM.
“We don’t know where the Lord is going to take this,” Lewis said, “but we hope this is opening a door to begin a revival.”