Small congregation; community heart
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2000
Union Baptist is not a big church in the traditional sense.
The building is of modest size; the church averages around 50 in Sunday School.
Its congregation is made up largely of young couples just getting established, families struggling to make the money last until the month's end, and elderly folks depending on small, fixed incomes.
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Yet this small church in the heart of the Honoraville community dares to dream big. Do they want a grand new sanctuary, a state-of-art sound system, or a 50 percent increase in enrollments?
Well . . .no.
Union's big plans involve something that their pastor, William Burns, deems more important than claiming the biggest "head count" or most impressive building.
Union's genial pastor says that he and his flock simply want to do what a New Testament church is instructed to do-to act as a spiritual lighthouse for their community.
What has Union done so far, and how do they seek to further accomplish their goal?
First, the young adult class started looking for some unique opportunities for outreach.
"Seek and you shall find" -soon three projects were planned with the entire church invited to join in and help.
The first opportunity pursued was via the Birmingham-based publication, "Answer", a non-denominational quarterly newspaper published solely through sponsorship by groups and individuals.
It targets non-Christians as well as new believers with limited biblical training, and is written in an easy-to-read, thought-provoking style.
Members were asked to donate whatever they could spare-be it spare change to a generous check.
All donations would help cover the cost of having copies sent directly to homes throughout the Honoraville community.
"So many folks work different schedules these days, it's hard to know when it's a good time to visit.
But if you've got this paper going into their homes, something they can read at their convenience, well-you might start planting some seeds." Bro. Burns explains.
Shanna Beasley, younger children's Sunday School teacher, enthusiastically set up a donation jar in her room. Some little ones, with pennies, dimes, and quarters clutched tightly in their small hands, were lifted up to deposit their gifts into the main collection box.
Thanks to the generosity of all ages, nearly 700 copies of "Answer" will go out to Honoraville residents in mid-April. "If we can soften one hard heart, touch one life . . . it will certainly be worth it," emphasizes Bro. Burns.
But why stop within the confines of one's own community?
A second outreach effort targets the handicapped in 30 states and 13 foreign countries.
Vision Tape Ministry sends out, free to the recipients, cassettes of Christian material to the blind and visually impaired. They rely on donations of both pre-recorded and blank tapes to complete their mission, and are much in need of additional cassettes.
A collection box is being filled with tapes to aid this worthy cause.
Lastly, Book-Link in Kentucky is a unique organization, all-volunteer, which seeks out anyone wishing to donate old Bibles, church periodicals, Christian magazines, VBS materials, tracts. . .any written Christian material that could be used by believers in foreign countries who often have little, if any, access to such materials.
"Just think of the old Bibles, the books, lots of good stuff we have that's just catching dust . . .these folks would treasure and use them. Let's not be stingy with our blessings." Burns reminds us.
The church will be taking donations of tapes and written materials through April 2, and would be happy to receive any outside help.
You may contact Pastor Burns at 382-2879, or call 382-5145 and leave a message.
However, the people of Union would be even happier if you or your club, church or organization decided to participate in these ministries yourselves.
Here's the info:
Answer Magazine at 1-800-578-7594; Vision Tape Ministries, Rev. and Mrs. Jack Kinley, Phenix City, Ala. or call (334)297-6432, and Book-Link, 4155 HWY 328 W, Eubank, KY 42567, or call (606)379-2140.
Remember, ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference-if they try.