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Volunteers equal stewardship at Dauphin Waycomment (0)

August 21, 2003

By Anthony Wade

Dauphin Way Baptist Church, Mobile, keeps its church going thanks to volunteers stepping in to do many of the responsibilities that paid staff once had.

“We have just a tremendously sweet spirit among the people here,” said Craig Gault, church administrator, who has been a Dauphin Way member for 40
nonconsecutive years. “People enjoy being at their church and love to come by during the week to see how they can help.”

Besides what Gault characterizes as “very substantial savings” in staff salaries realized due to the former ministerial and support staff departing Jan. 19, the church has reduced building, grounds and maintenance expenditures thanks to volunteers doing the work.

He said the church has six paid ministerial staff, including two children’s directors and seven facilities staff, either full- or part-time. Sixteen church members  work half-day shifts as volunteer receptionists in the office.

On Thursdays about 30 volunteers show up to clean the furniture, wipe down hymnals and dust the doors. They plant flowers, cut and edge the grass, paint the building. Many even bring their own equipment. Volunteers also cook meals and  break long enough to eat together.

A spirit of sweet fellowship and a feeling of belonging just scratch the surface of what these volunteers experience.

Gene Taylor, chairman of the grounds committee and a Thursday volunteer, talked about the grounds crew, saying, “Spiritually, each one of these men is so dedicated and it  has drawn us so much closer together. It’s like a real close small church.”

Most of the volunteers are active senior citizens, but younger members show up when their schedules permit. Volunteers range from their 40s through 70s, and senior adults comprise 75 percent of the total church congregation.

Taylor said they work from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. one day a week to take care of the 21 acres, caring for grass, sidewalks, parking lots and buildings.

“We are trying to absorb the cost of maintaining and beautifying the church,”  Taylor said.

“They are going about things very methodically,” said Michael Anderson, Mobile Baptist Association director of missions, referring to the financial, spiritual and organizational health of Dauphin Way.

Different look

Their average Sunday worship attendance is 400, contrasting with the 9,000 members in the 1980s, according to Gault. “We’ve had about 80 additions to the church (since Jan. 19).”

The nearly 100-year-old church, which has big plans for its centennial celebration on Feb. 15, 2004, adopted its first-ever constitution and bylaws June 20.

The absence of a church constitution was barely noticed through the years. The document comes now because the church became aware of the need for guidelines.

Former Dauphin Way pastor Steven J. Lawson left Dauphin Way Jan. 19 and organized Grace Fellowship Baptist Church, meeting in a 35,000-square-foot leased building along McRae Ave. in Mobile.

Lawson said on Aug. 15 that the church had begun participating in the Southern Baptist Convention about two weeks prior. The church is not yet participating in the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

The church is not a member church in the Mobile Baptist Association. “We have not done that yet and very well may do so, but we were told that it would take, maybe a year or so. We wanted to be quickly accepted so we took the most direct approach,” Lawson said.

Lawson stated the goal of his church is “to fuel the Great Commission — to win people to Christ and teach and train them in the word of God, bringing them to maturity in Christ.”

“We are doing tremendous. We have about 500 people attending.”

Grace Fellowship recently gave $18,000 to the SBC Cooperative Program and plan to give 10 percent of their annual church budget to missions.

“There is enthusiasm for Christ and His work,” Lawson said. “People are involved in Bible study, prayer and outreach. The fellowship is very sweet.”

Dauphin Way recently established a personnel committee and a pastor search committee. The church will hear and vote on an interim pastor Aug. 31.

“We are looking forward to what God’s going to do,” Gault said. “We believe He’s still in the miracle business and He put us here for a reason. He’s not a God of failure and
we believe we’ll succeed as we let Him lead our steps,” Gault said.

He said Dauphin Way’s financial obedience and giving 10 percent of its budget to missions brought blessings in the form of $24,000 in receipts over expenses for April through June this year. The church has $3 million in long-term debt from its relocation 15 years ago to I-65 and Dauphin Street.


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