November 5, 2019
Statistics show that 100 churches across our country close their doors every week and we don’t think God is ready for us to be one of those 100,” said Reid Guy, pastor of First Baptist Church, Chickasaw.
It takes prayer, hard work and many hands to revitalize a 30-member church that once attracted 1,200 worshippers.
Some of those hands were more than 120 University of Mobile (UM) students in Alabama School of the Arts who stepped in to help make the impossible possible during their annual Project Serve event Oct. 25.
Students helped accomplish major projects that would have taken years for First, Chickasaw, to complete on its own.
“This was a megachurch before we really had the term megachurch and it has the facilities to accommodate all that comes with a large church. First, Chickasaw, was a hub for our community,” said Guy.
Due to a handful of struggles membership had fallen to about 30 and they found themselves close to shutting the doors. But just at the right time, Reid Guy, husband of UM assistant professor of music Lori Guy, stepped in.
“I began interviewing for the role as pastor in May and obviously saw the struggle but also found that this church was not ready to close its doors,” he said.
Guy became pastor in September and the church is now averaging around 50 people on Sunday. New members are joining and the church has launched a new children’s ministry.
There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the church building and that is where UM students helped.
UM interim president Lonnie Burnett said the university emphasizes student involvement in local churches and this Project Serve event symbolizes that partnership.
“Local churches are our lifeblood — they send us students, they send us donations and this is our chance to give back,” said Burnett.
Because of financial struggles and size First, Chickasaw, has not met in the sanctuary of its building in more than a year. UM students helped paint, clean and do carpentry work to help the church family get ready to move back into the sanctuary Oct. 27.
“It’s pretty cool that UM gets to go out and serve. And it means even more because my grandparents got married in this church. I’m excited to help the church grow,” said Abigail Breland, a sophomore nursing major.
Abigail was one of the students who helped clean more than 100 pews. Students also helped paint rooms in the education building, children’s building, fellowship hall and parts of the sanctuary. Students also cleaned the church’s gym.
“The work they did was invaluable to our church. We are better positioned to reach our community for the gospel because of the work they did,” said Guy. “I honestly believe that indirectly through the work done by these students, people will come to know Christ and/or grow in their relationship with Him.”
To celebrate moving back into the sanctuary Oct. 27, the UM ensemble Sofree sang during First, Chickasaw’s morning service and RamCorps played in the evening. More than 80 people attended the service that included the first baptism in more than two years.
“This partnership with the University of Mobile is God-honoring and one we are so grateful for,” said Guy. (UM)