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New Beginnings Church receives donation of church facilitiescomment (0)

January 13, 2011

By Sondra Washington

Like the prophets in biblical times, two North Jefferson Baptist Association ministers say they have seen God answer prayers and draw His believers together in extraordinary ways over the past few months.

The two men — Hugh Thomas, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Graysville, and Steven Knox, pastor of New Beginnings Community Church, Graysville — both faced problems with their congregations and needed God’s intervention to solve them. First, Graysville, was an aging church literally fighting to keep its bills paid; and New Beginnings, which met in a storefront only two blocks away, was a three-year-old congregation bursting at the seams in need of a larger facility. Unbeknownst to either minister, God was planning a new beginning for both congregations and had already begun pricking the hearts of their members to work out a plan, which would end with First, Graysville, dissolving and donating their entire facilities to the newer congregation.

“God is to receive all of the glory for the gifting and the transition of these two entities to preserve a place for worship for the remnant that He has promised,” Knox said.

Although the two pastors would see each other at associational meetings where Thomas would ask for prayer for his church, both say the idea for the gift initiated with their leaders. “We were no longer meeting in the sanctuary,” Thomas said. “We were meeting in the fellowship hall. We couldn’t pay the gas bill on the sanctuary. … About six weeks ago, I received a phone call to see if I minded if my leadership would meet with New Beginnings. It began from that. Steven and I were never involved in any of this. It came from the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of the church.”

Knox added, “If we had had a hand in orchestrating this great transition, there would have been too much human in it; and it would have been messed up. … We chose to trust the Lord, stay out of the way and rely on what God would do instead of us.”

On Nov. 19, 2010, about 20 members of First, Graysville, voted to donate their facilities to New Beginnings, which held its first worship service there on Jan. 2. Already Knox said he has seen God’s hand at work among the people.

“We had 210 people here (at the first Sunday morning meeting),” he said. “Sunday evening there were 125 here. … During the course of those two combined services, we had a total of 24 people to come and join as members of New Beginning. We had three people come forth to request baptism. We had one rededication. We had one man that was 67 who got saved and gave his life to Christ Jesus. If nothing else comes from this transition, that one man getting saved would have been worth every effort of the transition. … Day by day God affirms this with His hand upon every work that has been done here.”

Thomas added, “We can talk to you for hours on how God has orchestrated this. … You would have to come and live this dream. … It’s one of those dream come true things for two groups to come together and see God’s awesome hand move in this.”

In all, Knox said First, Graysville, gave New Beginnings “a sanctuary that will seat more than 500 plus; a connecting two-story structure that has a fellowship hall and classrooms; an annex that has a three-story 11,000-square-foot educational facility with offices, classrooms and a complete nursery; a parsonage; a van that we needed desperately; and another acre of property in which we can grow.”

On the first Sunday, Knox already saw the need for additional parking after attendees overflowed the church parking lot and spilled over into lots at several surrounding buildings.

“I honestly believe that the Scripture is about to be revealed to us that ‘eye has not seen nor ear heard’ about the things that God is going to do right here in Graysville.”

Now Thomas is facing a new beginning of his own since the dissolution of First, Graysville, left him without a ministry post. And again, he is seeking God’s guidance on his next steps.

“I’ve been in the ministry for 25 years,” Thomas said. “We (he and his wife) are definitely waiting on God to open a door for us somewhere. … I think it’s kind of like what the Old Testament prophets went through where God shows you something that you continue going through until He shows you something else. I’m waiting on Him to show me something else.”

Knox commended Thomas on his willingness to follow God’s leadership during this transition.

“He (Thomas) completely emptied himself of any pride that he might have had and allowed God to work,” Knox said. “New Beginnings has been very blessed to work along with a man who was able to lay aside pride, any kind of fears or uncertainties about where he was going to be involved in any service in the future to allow God to work and allow this transition.”

Both Knox and Thomas hope other struggling churches consider this as an option.

“We feel that there are other churches out here in similar situations and need to do something, but they don’t know what to do,” Thomas said. “We are hoping that in reading this article, they will realize that we (various churches) are on the same side. … There are a lot of churches out there that need facilities and a lot of churches that have facilities that need people.”

Knox added, “We hope that other churches will read this and be inspired. We also hope that new church plants will be inspired to trust God and believe in what He said He would do.”

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