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New Chelsea church launched to reach booming Shelby Countycomment (0)

April 3, 2008

By Megan Norris Jones

When Grady Covin retired after 31 years with Jim Walter Resources in Brookwood, it wasn’t to a life of fishing and afternoons on the front porch. Instead Covin answered a call that he received at age 17 and is now serving as pastor of the newly established Mountainview Church, Chelsea, in Shelby Baptist Association.

“It was a God thing,” Covin said of his new job. “It’s not something you plan. It’s not the easiest way to get into the ministry.”

Mountainview began with 14 people meeting each week in the band room of Chelsea Middle School. They bought a sound system and hung backdrop curtains. Four people were saved in the month leading up to the church’s first official service, held Easter Sunday. On that Sunday, about 90 people packed the room and five were saved.

“Easter was awesome,” said Genelle Poe, part of the startup group, with palpable excitement in her voice.
“Through feeling the presence of the Lord in that little-bitty band room, I feel like this is where God wants me.”

Poe moved to Mountainview from the Catholic church where she had been a member for 30 years, in part, because she felt as if it was a place her sisters, who were not active in any church, would be more likely to visit. And they have. Both sisters are now regulars at Mountainview.

“That’s the way God will grow this church — one family at a time asking another family,” Covin said.

The church, which meets Sundays at 10:45 a.m., has been reaching out to the community through mailings and signs, but in Covin’s experience, word of mouth is the best advertisement.

“People are hungry for someone to ask them to church, and when we do, they come,” he said, noting people are now driving to Mountainview from as far as Sylacauga, Childersburg and Odenville.

The idea for planting Mountainview came in October 2006 when Covin’s son mentioned that the number of churches in Chelsea didn’t seem to be keeping pace with the area’s growing population.

Covin and his wife, Tricia, drove out to explore the area and decided he was right.

On their way home, they passed the Shelby Association office and decided to call. That’s how they got in touch with Bob Brown, church-planting strategist for the association. Grady Covin already holds a degree in biblical studies from Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, but in early 2007, he went through the association’s training for church planters. By January, the Covins were ready to begin meetings with a few people they had invited.

Already Mountainview’s congregation is looking to expand its outreach with a puppet ministry aimed at children. It’s all a part of the church’s mission to reach the lost for Christ — one person at a time.

“We don’t want to take people from other churches,” Poe said. “We want people who don’t know God, because that’s why we’re here.”

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