FLEMINGTON – The village of Flemington is located in the rolling hills north of Bolivar in Polk County. A little over a hundred people live in the village. The Rondo Baptist Church is located outside of town on a country road. Three years ago they had about 25 people attending. But now there are about 75 in worship most Sundays.
Pastor Harry Moore, age 76, leads this progressive rural congregation. His director of missions, Joe Coppedge, describes him as “old fashioned and hard working.” Coppedge acknowledges some people would not consider this a prime location for a growing church. But he says God is at work in this rural church and in this go-getter pastor.
“He goes around the neighborhood meeting folks, and at his age he doesn’t miss a beat,” said Coppedge.
The church has tripled in attendance in just three years and this could be attributed to Moore’s hard work ethic, but Moore is quick to point out he has good leaders in the church who are reaching out with him. People go visiting with Moore, and they have developed a good set of leaders for the youth, the Sunday school and the worship services.
Age doesn’t seem to bother the preacher. Moore said he has tried to retire two or three times, but God doesn’t seem to let him do that.
He said “Rondo is really just like an ‘old-timey’ church. It is a simple building, put up in the 1950s. The church was established in 1858, and there have been no splits or fusses.”
Moore has served as an evangelist in Missouri, Arizona and California. He prefers the title “revivalist.” He said, “I take these churches that are declining and help them get revived.”
A few years ago some of the youth wanted to take a float trip. The church helped out by purchasing 15 plastic kayaks. As many as 30 kids have gone out on the float trips in the Pomme de Terre lake and some of the area rivers. “If you are reaching the children and youth, you can use them as a door to get to the parents,” Moore said.
Youth leader, Mike Shire, leads the youth group now, and they have donated the fleet of kayaks to their association, the Mid-Lakes Baptist Association, in Bolivar. This way any church in the association can check out the kayaks and the association covers the liability insurance.
Cooperation such as this is the norm for the Rondo church. The pastor says he appreciates the association and their DOM, Bro. Coppedge. “We get together for breakfast on Tuesday mornings.” He added, “They do a lot of good things. Bro. Joe is very active. There is a disaster relief program.”
He also said they are very supportive of the Missouri Baptist Convention, even though, as a bivocational pastor, he is not able to go to a lot of their workshops and conventions. He said he would encourage them to continue to reach out to bivocational pastors.
Like many pastors in small communities, Moore does a fair amount of funerals. One unchurched man was ministered to as Moore reached out to him when his father died. “I did not know him,” said Moore. He said the son gave strong indication he wasn’t interested in religion.
The pastor said that he was “not a religious man, but claimed to be a spiritual man, and there is a difference.” Later that man came back around and asked the Lord to be his Savior. Moore’s kind demeanor seemed to make the difference despite the initial rejection of “religion.”
Asked what should young preachers do as they lead their churches, Moore said, “Preachers need to accept people as they are. Help them grow and make it better.”
“A church takes on the personality of the pastor. If he is outgoing and friendly, the church will be too.”
He also added that he has never needed to preach on money. In his 57 years of ministry, they have never had financial problems.
They are getting ready to have a dramatic presentation of the Christmas story, and their newly organized choir is preparing to have a choral cantata in the early part of December. There are 20 people participating in the choir.
DOM Coppedge stands in admiration of his pastor serving in the northern part of the association. “He recently sold his big truck so he could buy a 4-wheel Jeep. The reason was he needed the Jeep so he could get out on country roads in bad weather.”
Hard work and old fashioned preaching and visiting seem to be working well for Moore and Rondo Baptist Church. ν