FBC Cordova steps out in faith to revitalize its church, communitycomment (0)
August 22, 2013
By Julie Payne
Where buildings once stood in the city of Cordova, large concrete foundation slabs now stand in their place. And as Mahlon LeCroix, pastor of First Baptist Church, Cordova, surveys the area, what he sees is a blank slate.
More than two years after two tornadoes left a path of destruction through Cordova in Walker County on April 27, 2011, the city’s downtown district was demolished in late May to ready itself for the rebuilding process.
“It looked like we lived in a war zone after the tornadoes,” said LeCroix, who in addition to serving as pastor of First, Cordova, works two part-time jobs — as a substitute teacher at Cordova High School by day and as a police dispatcher at night — and volunteers as the high school’s football chaplain. “I’m always trying to find more ways to get (involved)” in the community, he noted.
It’s this outlook that has led LeCroix to impact both his church and city through various revitalization efforts, and he’s enlisted the First, Cordova, congregation to help. “The city is trying to be revitalized and I’m trying to revitalize the church at the same time,” he said.
Originally from Athens, LeCroix graduated from The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville and was the pastor of Beulah Anna Baptist Church, Leonia, Fla., while in school. He then became the pastor of First, Cordova, where he has served for more than a year.
Mike Gilbert, a deacon of First, Cordova, noted LeCroix’s positive attitude, which has been evident from the beginning. “He saw this town was destroyed, (and) he has this great outlook … that there’s a future,” Gilbert said, adding he is thankful for LeCroix’s ability “to see better things” and move forward in an area that’s been through its share of difficulty.
“He came in with the attitude of, ‘I want to make changes’ … (and) we’re taking that challenge on,” Gilbert noted. “He’s brought a lot of enthusiasm and excitement to the church, and it really shows.”
A primary aspect of the church’s own revitalization has been major renovations to the church building. “We’ve done a lot of reworking in the church … remodeling it and bringing it back,” LeCroix said. The church fellowship hall and children’s church area have been completely redone, and a new kitchen has been completed. In addition, areas of the building are being repainted and two large TVs have been installed in the sanctuary to enable PowerPoint presentations to accompany sermons.
While the majority of the building’s work has been facilitated by members of First, Cordova, a group from Holmes Baptist Association in Florida offered assistance in July by pulling out paneling and installing Sheetrock. “They took us on as their summer missions project,” LeCroix said.
And the revitalization work isn’t stopping on the church’s property. First, Cordova, also is looking outside its own walls to reach the community through various projects. During the timeframe the Holmes Association missions group was in town, members of First, Cordova, teamed up with them for community-related projects that included putting a new roof on a house and building a new porch. “People from (our) church helped [the Florida missions team] and took them to places they needed to go,” Gilbert said. “Since Bro. Mahlon has been here, he’s had this on his heart to … reach out to the community and had asked for us to participate. We’ve had good participation.”
LeCroix said First, Cordova, intends to maintain this momentum in the community by taking on one missions project a month in the future. “We’re trying to keep the fire going and keep people excited about doing missions work,” he said. “I want our focus in missions to be on people who are unchurched.”
Gilbert noted that members of First, Cordova, and even people outside of the church stepped up to fund the recent missions work with the Florida team.
“God is working through people we don’t even know,” LeCroix added, noting that he is reminded of the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. “[Jesus] took what the boy had and multiplied it. God is moving and He’s doing a lot because we’re willing to step out on faith.”