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Sipsey Association church grows by reaching nontraditional crowdcomment (0)

December 13, 2007

By Greg Heyman

The congregation of Zion Community Baptist Church, Gordo, in Sipsey Baptist Association knows a few things about what it means to be blessed.

In 10 years, the church plant has grown from about 30 members to almost 135 thanks to help from several sister churches in the association and individuals not even associated with a church.

Mike Skelton, pastor of Zion Community Baptist, loses track sharing the many ways others have helped the church during the five years he has served as pastor.

Along with their time and financial contributions, he said Zion Community has received donations of pews, a sound system, hymnals, a piano and other items.

But the highlight of that help will be realized soon when Zion Community opens a new sanctuary that members of other churches are helping build by donating both materials and their time.

The sanctuary will be a 40-by-70-foot facility built as an addition to an existing three-bedroom home, which will be converted into Sunday School rooms, with the kitchen serving as a fellowship hall.

Zion Community currently meets in an old store building with a flat roof that Sipsey Association Director of Missions Max Stripling said is really “not designed for worship but they worship anyway.”

Work on a more appropriate space began about a year ago with the help of five churches — Alberta Baptist, Tuscaloosa; First Baptist, Columbiana; Five Points Baptist, Northport; New Hope Baptist, Buhl; and Ridgecrest Baptist, Tuscaloosa. Skelton anticipates the project will be completed by the end of this year.

He said the response is a testament to God’s love.

“It shows the love, compassion and generosity that the churches and people in the community have for those who are less fortunate,” Skelton said.

And sharing those values was the idea behind Zion Community’s beginnings. According to Stripling, the church began as a group from Double Branches Baptist Church, Gordo, desired to minister to people the traditional church was not reaching.

Though Skelton describes Zion Community’s congregation as including “a broad range of people,” he said it is known for ministering to individuals who have experienced problems with alcohol, drugs and other addictions.

“That’s the type of people we’re really drawing,” Skelton said. “I’ve seen the changes in their lives. They don’t think about these things any more. They don’t do these things any more.”

He likes to brag on his congregation, telling the story of how several members went out last Christmas to witness to others.

Skelton said they stood at a four-way stop in Gordo, passed out tracts and shared with motorists what Jesus had done in their lives.

“There are not enough people doing that,” he said.

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