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Cullman-area Baptist buys prime land, builds camp, starts churchcomment (0)

June 18, 2009

By Jeremy Henderson

The chicken or the egg? The church or the church camp? The answer of which came first involves a long story, but Randy Hinkle, point person for Stoney Creek Outreach Church and Camp, doesn’t mind telling it. 

Hinkle, 44, is in real estate development and appraisal. He usually gets his way.

“I’ve done pretty well for myself,” Hinkle said.

He thought he was going to do well with the property in front of Stoney Creek, too, this nice spot off state Highway 157 between Cullman and Moulton. He was going to develop it into a subdivision.

But God had different plans.

“I went about it in a kind of selfish way honestly,” Hinkle said. “But we couldn’t get up any money or anything. When we finally gave the whole thing up to God, that’s when things started happening.”

So forget the subdivision. Forget the money. Hinkle decided what this place would really be good for was a church camp. It would be a place where children could come and learn about God and life.

“We won’t make any money, but me and my wife just decided it was time to do something right,” Hinkle said of the not-for-profit venture. “You know, give something back.”

And he said by doing so — by trading personal gain for godly intent — the Lord delivered him the vision for the development deal he’d been waiting for: a place to plant his new church.

Hinkle, a lifelong Baptist, wasn’t disgruntled with his church or any others. “We just felt like there were people in that area that needed help and that kids needed to be a focus,” he said.

So four people started a church and began meeting in houses.

Two months ago, the church called its first pastor, Josh Brenner. A 28-year-old pipe welder recently laid off from his job but on fire for the Lord, Brenner was recommended to the new congregation by Jack Collins, director of missions for West Cullman Baptist Association.

“He kept telling us about this young guy,” Hinkle said. “He said, ‘He hasn’t been ordained, hasn’t really done anything, but he’s up here every day wanting to preach somewhere.’”

And when Hinkle heard Brenner, he knew he was the one.

“He’s just a young country boy, you know, but when we started talking to him, there was no doubt that this was the right guy,” Hinkle said. “When he preaches, he’s a different person.”

In his short tenure, Brenner has already seen the church, now officially named Stoney Creek Outreach and recently approved for membership in West Cullman Association, grow from eight people to between 30 and 40. “I’m really working hard at this,” Brenner said. “The Lord is working.”

And there should be room for plenty more people soon.

Construction on the church’s building, which sits on five of the 50 acres Hinkle deeded to the camp of the same name, was scheduled to be finished June 15.

Then work on the camp began in earnest. It will include cabins, ropes courses, hiking trails and an Olympic-size pool. Hinkle even drove up to Iowa and bought the place a giant water slide. 

The weekend of June 6, a 100-member Carpenters for Christ crew, organized out of Birmingham’s Lakeside Baptist Church, arrived at Stoney Creek’s site to not only finish construction on the church but also begin construction on the camp.

Hinkle joked that the church building had to be finished to give volunteers with the construction ministry a place to stay while they worked on the camp. He and the church/camp’s other founding member, Paul Bennett, purchased 70 bunk beds from a Virginia Tech University surplus auction to provide them a place to lay their heads.

On June 7–9, a revival event was held on the camp and church grounds, featuring southern gospel quartet Triumphant, musical group Journey 8:12 and eager preaching from Brenner, who will also likely serve as the camp’s director of ministry.

And while things have gone swimmingly since the subdivision days, Hinkle isn’t satisfied with short-term success. “We’re strictly doing this for the benefit of what happens in the long run,” he said. “Getting kids through here and changing lives — that’s the point.”

For more information, call Stoney Creek Outreach Church and Camp at 256-338-5583.

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