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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Samantha church growing, focused on others comment (0)

July 10, 2008

By Jeremy Dale Henderson


Dwight Beams said for a long time, his church had been "just sort of drifting along."

He and his wife, Dorothy, have been members of Arbor Springs Baptist Church for more than 50 years. But to hear them tell it, nothing compares to the past four-and-a-half.

That just happens to be when Pastor Ted Sessoms came to the small Sipsey Baptist Association church in the tiny community of Samantha, just north of Northport. Since his first sermon there in 2003, more than 60 have been saved and more than 50 have joined by letter.

In fact, Dwight Beams seems to think that more people have been saved at Arbor Springs Baptist since Sessoms arrived than in all the years prior — at least the years he’s been a member.

The congregation’s climbing statistics could be attributed to Sessoms’ having the liberty to preach the Word and really drive home the point that "ministry is always about others."

And church members have gotten the message, participating in community outreach efforts such as the Adopt-A-Mile Program and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training.

With Adopt-A-Mile, the church is in charge of cleaning a 2-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 43 so littered that strangers pull over just to say thank you.

A 20-member group from Arbor Springs completed a nine-week CERT course taught by the state Emergency Management Agency and will be activated in the event of a major disaster in the area. According to Sessoms, the group was recognized as the first church group ever to have completed the course.

But the current pride and joy of Arbor Springs is far and away the ministry of the youth drama team, H.I.M. (Hands In Motion). Formed a few years ago by youth leader Angelia Corbell, the team utilizes sign language in honor of Shari Freeman, a deaf church member who passed away in 2007.

The first performance at Arbor Springs had everyone shouting and crying, Sessoms said. The team is in high demand among area churches and will soon be featured in an upcoming issue of Tuscaloosa Christian Family magazine.

Whereas teenagers at Arbor Springs were once few and far between, the thriving youth ministry is symbolic of the church’s revival not only by virtue of its success but also by its very existence, Sessoms said. "The youth really are the focus and strength of our church with their worship and enthusiasm for the Lord," he said.

And of the church, Sessoms added, "It is just amazing to see so many in a congregation work so hard to touch lives."

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