HAMILTON, Ohio?What’s a church to do when the new church start that was the focus of an upcoming out-of-state mission trip suddenly disbands and the leader accepts another pastorate?
For Inglewood Baptist Church of Grand Prairie it meant remembering the often-cited adage to be flexible while on mission. Ultimately, that led to an expanded ministry to residents of the site of the previous church plant in Hamilton, Ohio, as well as the pastor’s new flock in nearby Fairfield.
When Inglewood Baptist began looking for a new opportunity to spread the gospel beyond Texas, the missions committee learned of a new church plant in the Five Points area of Hamilton. For more than a year Point of Hope Baptist Church pastor Doug Morgan and his family led the church to reach the community through block parties, clothing distribution and ministry to teachers and students of a local elementary school.
“We wanted to share the love of God with this neighborhood and start something that was different, but relevant to people,” Morgan said. “Our ministry is showing God’s love in a practical way to people who are hurting and lonely.”
Inglewood supported several of those efforts, purchasing backpacks for kids in the Hamilton neighborhood who could not afford them and helping host a breakfast for teachers working in the challenging school setting. Three IBC staff members traveled to the church last November to get a better sense of the needs while participating in a Thanksgiving community dinner.
SBTC church planting associate Leroy Fountain provided the Inglewood committee with an overview of the needs in Ohio, where 635 Southern Baptist churches attempt to reach a population of 11 million. As part of a multi-year partnership between Ohio and Texas Southern Baptists, churches have been encouraged to link up with the particular “impact association” chosen for yearlong emphasis by Ohio Baptists. Southwestern Baptist Association of Ohio in 2004 gained Inglewood’s attention and plans for a mission trip began forming last fall.
Just as Inglewood began promoting the 1,000-mile trip to Ohio set for mid-July, IBC missions pastor Doug Hixson learned that Morgan had accepted the pastorate of Governor’s Park Baptist Church in nearby Fairfield, Ohio. Although the Point of Hope ministry had been successful, the 40-member church was never able to provide adequate support for the pastor who had resigned his job as a policeman to begin the church in Hamilton.
The core group of Point of Hope members offered to join Morgan’s new church in Fairfield, which, in turn, began bussing in families and other prospects from the Hamilton site. Inglewood’s 15-member mission team joined teachers at Governor’s Park Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School during the evening and drew kids from both neighboring towns to a morning basketball clinic.
On two of the days, the Texas group helped the association’s New Life Mission by restocking the food pantry and sharing a meal with the several hundred residents who filtered through for a free lunch. Larry and Linda Gaines lead the ministry, serving as North American Mission Board missionaries.
Hixson said manpower became the best tool for Inglewood to encourage a church like Governor’s Park. “Many churches don’t do mission trips because they don’t believe they can afford them. I believe we can’t afford not to do them,” Hixson said, citing Jesus’ command to go to all the nations.