ALVORD—Hopewell Baptist Church, nestled a few curvy miles off Highway 287 in North Texas, is a modest church. It offers a nursery as needed, has one Sunday School class and fits all its announcements on a small corkboard outside a two-stall bathroom that the pastor and his wife clean themselves.
But for Hopewell Baptist, small would be a misnomer.
Hopewell Baptist operates on a big-vision mindset, taking decidedly large strides in supporting missions and ministry through the Cooperative Program—the collective giving arm of Southern Baptists. As a church, members of Hopewell have committed to pass 10 percent of their annual budget through the CP via the Southern Baptists of Texas and Southern Baptist conventions—all in an effort to extend their reach beyond their community to the far corners of the globe.
Pastor Timothy Pigg, a Florida native and master of divinity student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Hopewell members realized that on their own, they could not do much in the battle to win souls globally, yet they also knew they were not excepted from the Lord’s instructions in Matthew 28 to go into all the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. From where they sat in a small white church situated just up the hill from a cow pasture and an unmarked railroad crossing, it seemed their influence was somewhat limited.
“We do not have the financial resources to do what the church at Antioch did with Paul,” said Pigg, who grew up the son of an associate pastor now serving at First Baptist Church in Naples, Fla. “As a smaller church, we cannot financially support a full-time missionary, but we recognize our Great Commission obligation to make disciples of all nations. We were stuck in a quandary.”
The CP, however, has provided Hopewell a chance to make big waves for Christ, even from their rather remote and out-of-cellular-range location.
“We decided that partnering with other like-minded churches would allow us to impact the kingdom of God in ways that would otherwise be impossible,” Pigg said, explaining that increasing their contribution through the CP served as part of the solution to the church wanting to up its efforts in missions and evangelism. Pigg said the church also takes Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary offerings in answer to God’s call to sacrificial giving.
“Another reason why I support giving through the CP is that is allows me to teach my members the importance of unity and cooperation,” Pigg said. “The nature of the CP is churches working together to accomplish one goal. As a pastor, I want a spirit of unity to undergird every ministry we do as a local congregation. The CP allows me to remind my members how we have been called to a greater service for God that involves our cooperation.”
140th anniversary celebration
In keeping with the church’s big vision was the service it held April 6 commemorating Hopewell’s 140th anniversary. The celebration, which coincided with CP Sunday—a day churches make a concerted effort to recognize the value of the Cooperative Program and emphasize their continued and fervent support of Southern Baptists’ giving channel—included a sermon by Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson and music led by Don Wyrtzen, Southwestern church music professor, and Leo Day, church music dean.
Dorothy Patterson taught a women’s Sunday School class, and SBTC Minister-Church Relations Associate Ted Elmore presented a plaque of commendation on behalf of Executive Director Jim Richards and the convention for Hopewell’s faithful ministry over the past 140 years.
Nearly 100 people packed into the two sections of pews for the celebration and then converged on the fellowship hall to share a Texas-sized potluck. Pigg said a normal Sunday service runs about 30 people—double the average attendance from little more than a year ago when the church called Pigg as its pastor.
Before preaching from John 3, Patterson commended the church for its longevity and also for its faithful giving through the CP, which not only funds missionaries but also substantially underwrites the preparation of missionaries, pastors and church leaders in the convention’s six seminaries.
“By your faithful giving and sharing with other churches all across the state of Texas and far, far beyond, in your giving to a common missionary fund, what you have done is to make it possible for Timothy Pigg and this young man and that young man and several others I see around here, all the way back to this young man [Patterson], for us to go to seminary at a third of the cost,” Patterson said.
Reduced education costs for students, Patterson said, equate to ministers and missionaries free to go wherever the Lord calls them without mountains of educational debt. This means, he explained, that those the Lord has called can begin their service with immediacy and focus.
That service, Patterson said, is an extension of the ministry of Hopewell Baptist Church, among thousands of others, as it financially and prayerfully backs those serving as the Lord’s hands worldwide.
“You have 5,200 career missionaries—that’s the largest mission force in all of the history of Christianity—in 2,000 years of Christianity—you have 5,200 missionaries representing you out there on the field in 138 countries,” Patterson told the congregation. “We have all those people scattered throughout the world that represent you and that represent me. Thank you, church, for what you have done across the years.”
Pigg said he prays the milestone in the life of Hopewell Baptist Church will stoke fires that have been burning among their body for the past 140 years into a furnace that will propel ministry and revival in Wise County, and thanks to the CP, the whole world.
“My prayer is that the 140th anniversary service serves as a catalyst for the next 140 years,” Pigg said. “There is still much to be done for the kingdom of God, and I could not think of two people [Patterson and Day] who would celebrate God’s past work and challenge us to go forward with greater fervency to study and know God’s Word, than these two men.”