Sedalia church baptizing at phenomenal rate
From zero to 160 in nothing flat
By Lee Warren
October 18, 2005
SEDALIA — Cornerstone Baptist Church seemed destined from its inception in 2003 to understand, identify with, and minister to people who were far from affluent and even further from having their lives in order. The church started in a barn, then moved to an associational office, and now meets in a converted grocery store building.
“When I first came, there were 34 people here,” said Pastor Rusty Thomas, who was called by the congregation in February 2004, after they began meeting in the former Aldi’s building. “I’ll never forget it. We had about 40 metal chairs and a pretty blank area in here and it sure has changed.”
Within his first year at the church, in which he was bi-vocational, it grew to 80 people. In recent months, it has doubled to 160 people—about 40 of whom have been baptized in recent weeks (the other 40 newest members transferred by letter).
Most of the growth occurred after the church heard that trailers were available from the Harmony Baptist Association. In July, they held four strategically placed block parties using the trailers in the four corners of the city – complete with music, free food, and a lot of fun. People responded by joining the church.
Thomas, no longer bi-vocational, said that they originally thought they’d reach people in some of the newer neighborhoods in the city, but God had other plans.
“The people we are reaching are the downtrodden, but you know, we are just loving the Lord and loving them and it’s amazing to watch a whole lot of people coming to know Christ,” Thomas said. “We’ve become a church that not only has white people in it, but now we have black people in it, and I believe there’s not going to be barriers like that put here. That’s a great thing.”
Missouri Baptist Convention State Evangelism Director Bob Caldwell was not surprised to learn that Cornerstone was experiencing that many baptisms. He knows Thomas and believes in his ministry.
“He’s got one gear and it’s high gear,” Caldwell said. “He just loves to go after lost people.”