Four uniquely different congregations unite with the MBC
By Bob Baysinger
December 2, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – A growing list of established non-Southern Baptist churches in Missouri are making decisions to become part of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
At the same time, several former Missouri Baptist churches who have affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) have officially withdrawn from the MBC, including:
Southside Baptist Church, St. Louis; Ruskin Heights Baptist Church, Kansas City; Cornerstone Baptist Church, Columbia; Holmeswood Baptist Church, St. Louis; and Kirkwood Baptist Church.
The CBF was formed by disgruntled moderates who oppose the theologically conservative direction of the MBC and SBC.
A study by The Pathway shows that as many as four congregations have joined — or are in the process of joining — the MBC because of the convention’s decision to take a strong stand for the infallible, inerrant Word of God.
Churches joining the MBC range from independent, fundamental congregations in the extreme south and north part of the state to black congregations in St. Louis and Jefferson City.
“One of the things making an impression on people is that the convention is finally taking a stand. That really means something to people," said Danny Decker, a former director of missions and now the director of men’s ministries for the MBC. “I believe there are many out there who will go with somebody that takes a stand for the Word and is not wishy-washy."
- Churches joining the MBC family include
- One In Christ Baptist Church, Jefferson City
- Living Word Baptist Church, Poplar Bluff
- Faith Bible Church, Trenton; and
- New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, Ferguson.
The One In Christ Church has made application to join the Concord Baptist Association in Central Missouri . The church is expected to become an official member when the vote it taken early next year.
Pastor Marcus Reynolds said the relationship with Missouri Baptists began when the small One In Christ congregation began meeting at the Baptist Student Union, home of the Concord Association office located at Lincoln University. Reynolds had been ordained to preach in a Missionary Baptist church and had no contact with Southern Baptists.
“The main thing that attracted us was the idea of an inclusive approach to sharing Jesus Christ, not an exclusive approach," said Reynolds. “I think it will be a benefit to both parties. Jesus was about establishing relationships and was no respecter of color. I believe this will be an opportunity for us to break down some stereotypes."
One In Christ membership was less than 20 when Reynolds became pastor and the church did not have a permanent home.
“I was a student at Midwestern Seminary and hadn’t been named the pastor yet. One of our deacons heard about a building that was for sale," Reynolds said. “It was a pretty big building for a small fellowship, so we began praying and fasting.
“We were doing a Bible study on Joshua, so four deacons and I decided to walk around the building six times in silence. On the seventh trip around the building, we sang praises to God. This was our Jericho, and the doors opened for us to get the building."
Attendance at One In Christ now has increased to more than 50.
Living Word, organized in 1980 as an independent congregation, is located about three miles outside Poplar Bluff. The church now averages more than 200 in its Sunday morning worship services.
“Gary Taylor was very influential in bringing us into the convention," said Pastor David Groves. “We have been very pleased and are very delighted in the way the Missouri Baptist Convention is going with its conservative stance on Scripture. We’re delighted to be a part of the convention."
Taylor was introduced to the Living Word pastor by Gene Hall, a member at First Baptist, O’Fallon.
“Gene called and said the (Living Word) pastor was coming to St. Louis and wanted to know if he could meet me. The pastor indicated to me they were independent and had shied away from any involvement with the Missouri Baptist Convention because of its liberal leanings," Taylor explained.
“I told him some of were praying that Missouri would come back to its historic roots as a convention. About a year later when I was elected president of the convention, David called and said he would like to meet and talk about his church becoming a part of the MBC."
As an independent church, Groves said Living Word has “never been in anybody’s camp."
“We’re not fighting anybody. There are no crusades going on," Anderson explained. “We’re not fighting for any particular translation of the Bible or the length of somebody’s hair or the length of dresses. And we’re also not fighting against churches that take a stand on those issues."
Anderson said a youth rally he attended probably tilted him toward bringing his church into the MBC.
“A local youth leader stood and made a statement about how wonderful it would be if in 20-25 years the young ladies who were there that night still had never worn a pair of slacks or jeans. The thought crossed my mind that I, too, want to see them be Godly young ladies. But I decided the important thing was that they live for Jesus, not what they wear."
It was Living Word’s understanding of Scripture, Groves said, that helped them decide to become a Southern Baptist church.
“It had a lot to do with the work the convention was doing to get the job done for missions," the pastor said. “As we began to see the more and more effective work of the convention, it was more suited for us to be united than to go it alone."
Alonzo Adams’ church, New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist, is in the middle of a construction program that will result in a new 400-seat worship center in Ferguson.
“We’re still considered small with 80-90 attending our Sunday morning worship services," said Adams, who started the church he pastors in 1977. “But we don’t want to stay that way. We’re getting ready to send out a newsletter to the community to make them more aware of the church and the Lord."
Adams said it was the outreach ministry and educational program that influenced him to lead his church into the MBC.
“It was quite a bit different from what we had known as National Baptists," he said. “That’s what led me to go in the Southern Baptist direction."
Representatives from Faith Bible Church, Trenton, approached Ron Smith, director of missions in Harrison Association more than three years ago about joining the Missouri Baptist family of churches.
“Faith Bible was organized in 1988 as a small, independent church," Smith said. “They discovered that they all had Southern Baptist beliefs, so they felt like it would be good to be associated with the convention."