Ozark church plant rejoices in rapid growth
OZARK—Ozark Highlands Baptist Church celebrated a constituting service March 4, reflecting on all that the new church plant has done since its launch in 2004.
A leadership change brought Mark Zimmerman to the pastorate in November of 2005. God had been preparing Zimmerman since 2004 with a call to move into full-time ministry.
“I went full-time in 2004,” Zimmerman said. “I sought counsel, made a resume and put it in two associational offices. I had some calls and they just weren’t right in our hearts.”
Through a meeting with Hosea Bilyeu, pastor of Ridgecrest Baptist Church, Springfield, Zimmerman learned about the church plant.
“Hosea was having a missions meeting in September of 2005 where he told me about Ozark Highlands Baptist Church,” Zimmerman said. “My wife and I drove on the parking lot of Ozark Highlands and prayed, and God laid it on our hearts at the same time. We searched God and He spoke to our hearts in unison that this was the place.”
Since Zimmerman’s move in September 2005, the church has grown to more than 150 regular attendees. The congregation has seen 22 baptisms since last July and the church continues to see new converts on a regular basis.
“Our goal is to genuinely love one another,” Zimmerman said. “When people join I tell them that we must love, pray, and be open and honest with one another… and it must go both ways.”
The thriving church celebrated its church establishment with a constituting service. According to Jerry Field, Missouri Baptist Convention state director of church planting, “A constituting service is an official recognition and declaration that a new congregation has advanced to the stage that they are now an autonomous, self-sustaining congregation no longer requiring the oversight, support and supervision of a sponsoring church.” He noted that it is a kind of “coming of age celebration.”
The Bilyeu family provided the music and Bro. Hosea gave a charge to the congregation. In the middle of the service the congregation was given an opportunity to sign the new constitution. Around 150 names were added to the charter during the service.
“I’ve never seen anything like it!” Zimmerman said. “It’s so exciting…I love it!”
Ozark Highlands Baptist Church continues to reach the community of Ozark through telling, teaching and serving the Good News. Zimmerman has been blessed by following God’s call to this mission.
“I’ve known Mark and his wife for about 5 years,” Field said. “They are a wonderful couple with great hearts. They are an ideal match for the area and have done a wonderful job in leadership.”