LaFayette church part of nationwide pilot program created to boost baptismscomment (0)
May 24, 2007
Antioch Baptist Church, LaFayette, in East Liberty Baptist Association won’t have to report zero baptisms again this year.
Thanks to a new initiative by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE), the church got a jump start for reaching new believers for Christ — and at three months into the year already has nine professions of faith.
Antioch Baptist is Alabama’s only church and one of only a few in the nation to participate in the Baptism Assistance Project pilot program. The program was created by COSBE and the mass evangelism department of NAMB.
The program provides small churches like Antioch with the opportunity to bring in full-time evangelists by paying the evangelists’ expenses.
Eight of the nine professions of faith came during Antioch’s revival services March 11–14.
Evangelists Gayna and Dean Forrest of Pike Road — Dean is president of Alabama’s COSBE — and Gary Bowlin of Summit, Miss., president of COSBE, led the revival.
One of the new believers was baptized at the beginning of the March 12th evening service.
During those four days, 120 people from a community of a little more than 3,000 attended at least one service at Antioch, which has about 30 members.
"This was a huge jump start for this church," Pastor Tim Fowler said. "It renewed our passion for evangelism."
Antioch didn’t have any baptisms in 2006, and according to the Annual Church Profile, only reported one or two in the past several years.
Bowlin said the program was created in response to concerns by NAMB and COSBE in regard to the 11,000 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that — like Antioch — reported no baptisms in 2006.
"NAMB has provided some funding to take the financial burden away from churches that feel that they otherwise could not have a full-time vocational harvest evangelist," he said, adding that churches also receive a love offering to help with evangelists’ expenses.
Forrest said the program should be officially launched and available to churches nationwide after the SBC’s annual meeting in San Antonio in June. (TAB)