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Opelika’s Northside holds missions fair for church, communitycomment (0)

July 29, 2004

By Marlin Caddell


Opelika may be best known for being “near Auburn,” but a Baptist church in the town plans to put itself and Opelika on the map with its evangelism efforts.

Northside Baptist Church in Opelika launched its campaign to become “a vital member of the community” with a missions fair July 17.

“This missions fair is an effort to restore our church to active ministry,” said Northside Pastor Don Turner. “We want to show the community that we are willing to minister to them.”

Jim Gilchrist, a deacon of Northside, said the 22 members of the church want the Opelika community to know that Northside is ready to become a ministering powerhouse in the community.

“For a long time, the community has forgotten that Northside is here,” Gilchrist said. “We are ready to let the people in our community know that Northside is here.”

Mary Alice Johnson, an administrative assistant for Tuskegee Lee Baptist Association, said she believes the members are serious because Northside is the first church in the association to sponsor a communitywide event.

“This event created excitement in the community and within the association,” she said. “This will give hope to other churches, and they can see how they can use missions fairs as opportunities to help their churches.”

Turner said Northside members spent three months planning the missions fair. And on the day of the fair, the first sparkles of sunlight spotlighted Northside members hard at work preparing for the event.

Ministry booths and displays al­lowed Baptist groups such as The Alabama Baptist newspaper, the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and Alabama Woman’s Missionary Union to share about their services and ministries.

Local groups also were represented such as the Red Cross and a radio station.

A clown named “Moon” made sure everyone was wearing a smile and a “God loves the clown in me” sticker, while a puppet show caught the attention of wide-eyed children as they learned of Jesus’ love.

The gospel also was shared for all ages through a simple trick with water and plastic cups.

And, of course, Northside members tickled the tummies of those in attendance with watermelon and sweet potato pie.

As rain threatened some activities at the missions fair, Pastor Turner just shrugged and said, “God is bringing a little liquid sunshine.”

Don Johnson, director of missions for Tuskegee Lee Association, said, “This program has been a unified effort, and everyone seems concerned with reaching people.”

Activities such as the missions fair will give Northside a chance to grow and revitalize itself  within the community, Johnson explained, noting membership had declined in recent years due to an aging congregation.

For a brief moment Turner sat and watched the children at the missions fair as they played. “This is what (becoming an active ministry) is all about,” he said. “These children are breathing new life back into Northside.”

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