NEW BLOOMFIELD – After 195 years, Providence Baptist Church here continues ministry – especially by helping members of the community deal with grief.
The church was working through a 13-week Grief Share session, Pastor Jim Shaver of Providence Baptist said at the end of August. That follows two separate two-hour Loss of Spouse seminars held July 15 and Aug. 12. Each seminar drew at least a dozen people.
Both Shaver and a retired pastor who is also a member of the Providence congregation, B.J. Lewis, have both lost their spouses.
“We’re not leading something we don’t know about. He’s two-and-a-half years out, I’m about a year out. The loss of spouse seminar has had a more immediate impact on the people attending,” Shaver said.
“It covers things like how to ask for help, how to deal with a spouse’s clothing and possessions. There’s no right answers. Grief is different for everybody, but there are some similarities, and we are able to encourage each other,” Shaver said.
The material for the two programs is available through Church Institute, which also offers programs for divorce care, divorce care for children, and single parenting.
Shaver said the Grief Share program has included not only those who have lost a spouse but others who have lost loved ones, including from Covid-19.
Providence also is looking to do Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University sometime in 2022.
“We’ve done Financial Peace University three or four times, and we’ve had good response from the church and the community,” Shaver said.
Longtime ministry legacy
Providence was slated to celebrate a milestone this year, but the lingering pandemic changed things.
“It was 195 years. We were scheduled for a fish fry, Aug. 5, the actual date of the anniversary, but there was an uptick in COVID, and we had to cancel,” Shaver said.
“We did a big celebration for our 175th and 190th, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the 200th.”
COVID-19 has “halfway” shut down the church. August 1, the church was online only. August 8 and 15, the church met in person, without Sunday School, but only about 30 attended. This is half of the normal attendance.
“The church was started August 5, 1826 in a home east of New Bloomfield,” Shaver said, adding the first church building was a small log cabin with a dirt floor.
James Suggett was the most famous of previous pastors of Providence, but was not the pastor when the church was founded. Suggett, born in 1776, fought in the Indian and 1812 wars, and was a chaplain for his cousin Richard Johnson when Johnson was Martin Van Buren’s vice president.
In 1834, the Missouri Baptist Convention (then called the Missouri Baptist General Association) was born during a meeting at Providence Baptist Church.
Suggett, who helped form the MBC, also planted three other churches in central Missouri. It is estimated he baptized 3,000 people in his ministry in Kentucky and then in Missouri.
A church doesn’t last 195 years without some type of impact in the community. Despite the pandemic, Providence Baptist is carrying on its legacy by reaching out to men and women with the love of Christ.