Texas Roundup

FBC Canton gasoline giveaway a ‘blessing’ to community

A Canton church gave free gas to the community late last year as part of a community outreach that lasted approximately five hours and resulted in plenty of smiles from surprised customers.

First Baptist Church in Canton set aside a block of money as a way to give back to the community and to bless others during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, KLVT reported. 

Each automobile got up to $50 of gas, as the congregation partnered with a local gas station, Mr. D’s.  

“I’m disabled and I get a limited check every month so this is a real blessing. It’s hard for me to fill up a truck,” Darrell Jobe, one of the recipients of the free gas, told the television station.

All total, the outreach impacted between 250-300 people.

“Gas going up the way it is, it just seems like that would be an easy way to do it,” said Rod Hite, the church’s minister of music. “We’ve done things where we’ve given away food—ministry things in the community—but this just seemed like the perfect thing to do this year.”

The church’s Facebook page called the outreach an “amazing day.” It was, the church said, an “answer to prayer for many” and “a blessing for all of us who got to serve, talk, and love on so many in our community.”

Sources: KLVT, FBC Canton

Tyler church choir once again allowed to share love of Jesus at care facilities 

For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Tyler church is singing concerts in senior living facilities. 

Green Acres Baptist Church relaunched its choir-led concerts late last year, delivering joy to the residents of Primrose Retirement Community and The Hamptons—two senior living facilities located in the same city as the congregation.

The pandemic had canceled all concerts. 

“We are delighted to be back and share the love of Jesus with music,” the church’s worship pastor, Mike Parks, told KETK. 

“We love to get to come to this place and get to fellowship with them and get to worship the Lord with them,” Parks added. 

Residents laughed, smiled and sang along as the Green Acres choir performed Christmas classics and new songs alike. 

“It thrills me to the bottom of my heart. My heart is in it,” Hamptons resident Thelma Ruth Childs said. 

Sources: KETK, Green Acres Baptist

Texas church’s baptisms spotlighted in New York Times story

A SBTC church in Waco and its non-traditional baptistry got a mention in The New York Times as part of a feature story on the modern trend away from built-in baptistries. 

Because built-in baptisteries are prone to leaks and mold—in addition to taking longer to fill and heat—many churches have opted for non-traditional modes for baptisms, the Times article notes. 

Grace Church moved into a bowling alley in 2016. Instead of constructing a built-baptistry, the congregation bought a foam model that costs about $2,500. Using the foam baptistry “conveys this isn’t your grandmother’s church,” Drake Osborn, pastor of teaching and liturgy at Grace Church, told The Times. 

The story spotlighted a Florida church that conducts baptisms at the beach, a Kansas church that uses a hot tub, and an Iowa church that baptizes new members in a cattle trough.

“Maintaining baptistries is very expensive,” said Evan Welcher, the former pastor at Vine Street Bible Church in Glenwood, Iowa, explaining the trend toward non-traditional methods. 

Vine Church recently spent $3,000 to fix a heat pump on a built-in baptistry. 

“We have two baptistries, and at different times they both leaked,” Welcher said. “The cattle trough looks really easy; it looks so much better. People might say ‘Oh, the cool churches do it,’ but it actually looks like a better way.”

Source: The New York Times

SWBTS students share gospel with 800-plus Kenyans during first post-COVID mission trip

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary reported in November that its students shared the gospel with more than 800 Kenyans during a 10-day international mission trip that marked the first seminary-led mission trip since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The team of eight served in Nairobi, Kenya, alongside two mission units from the International Mission Board (IMB) and saw more than 100 Kenyans come to faith in Christ. The trip was sponsored by the seminary’s World Missions Center. 

“Nairobi is a key city in East Africa,” said Sam Brittain, associate director of the World Mission Center, and the mission team leader. “Strategically, serving in Nairobi would expose students to missions in a city in the most-rapidly urbanizing part of the world. The team in Nairobi also had ways for the team to serve that were in line with their long-term strategy.”

Kenya was selected due to the relationship between the IMB teams and Southwestern Seminary, COVID-19 conditions within the country, and Kenya’s allowance of short-term visitors within its COVID-19 parameters, Brittain added.

The IMB teams used the seminary team to engage in outreach efforts on three university campuses and in street evangelism. 

Source: SWBTS

Rockwall Friendship Baptist Church (located in Royse City) broke ground on 23,000-square-foot facility

Rockwall Friendship Baptist Church broke ground in November on a 23,000-square-foot worship center and campus that, when completed, will serve as its first newly constructed meeting space.

The church was organized in 2003 through a mission effort started by Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in cooperation with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the Dallas Baptist Association. The construction will also include a worship room and commons area for children, as well as an expansive common area outside.

RFBC initially met in an elementary school building in Heath before moving to and then renovating an existing worship facility in Royse City in 2010.  

“This is the result of the infinite faithfulness of our God,” the church said on its Facebook page.

Sources: Rockwall Friendship Baptist Church

Voters approve constitutional amendment prohibiting governments from closing churches

A proposed Texas constitutional amendment that prohibits state and local governments from closing or restricting church services passed easily on Election Day.

Known as Proposition 3, it was placed on the ballot by legislators in response to a push by some governments to close houses of worship during the pandemic. Supporters of Proposition 3 said such a decision should be left up to churches.

Proposition 3, which passed with 62 percent of the vote, says state and local governments “may not enact, adopt, or issue a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services.”

State Senator Kelly Hancock, who sponsored the amendment, said its purpose is to “provide some belts and suspenders to what we know to be true within our constitutional rights already.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott deemed churches “essential services” early during the pandemic—an action that limited what local governments could tell churches to do.

The constitutional amendment strengthens the religious liberty protections for churches.  

“Churches provide essential spiritual, mental, and physical support in a time of crisis,” said state Rep. Scott Sanford. “Closing churches not only eliminated these critical ministries and services, but it violated their religious freedom guaranteed by our laws and Constitution.”

Sources: Houston Chronicle, Texas Secretary of State

TEXAN Correspondent
Michael Foust
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