Churches in our area have a rich heritage

Published 12:39 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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The churches in our area have a rich heritage and many are celebrating anniversaries this year.
Beck Mountain Baptist Church, a small church located between Valley Forge and Siam, recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. Siam Baptist Church will celebrate its 150th anniversary on October 15 and Elizabethton First United Methodist Church will celebrate its 200th anniversary October 15. Other churches in the area have celebrated anniversaries.
Churches are special to people in our area. Many remember week-long revivals, dinner (literally) on the ground before there were fellowship halls, Vacation Bible Schools, which were two weeks long, and there was a time when funerals were almost always held in local churches. Until recent years most small country churches did not have baptistries, and baptisms were held in nearby rivers. Also, singing schools were held in many churches.
Our culture has been largely shaped by churches. Churches still play an important role in our lives. It’s a place where our lives and faith are enriched by the Word of God. It’s a place that brings people close to one another. Often, it’s where we make new friends, and for some, church friends are lifelong friends. It’s a place where people are united in marriage, babies are dedicated to the Lord, and friends share their burden.
However, like most things, churches change, the people change. A new generation worships differently than past generations.
There was a time when people wore their very best to church, but that has changed, too. In some communities, church attendance has declined. Also, COVID had a great impact on some churches. Attendance is still low in some churches, especially on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Today, many church members listen to their service livestream. They don’t have to get dressed to go, and they don’t have to leave the house to attend church.
Several factors have impacted these changes, among them more churches, more non-traditional worship times, and a desire among the younger generation to be a part of a smaller gathering rather than a larger gathering.
Times change, and it changes the way we do church. Ministry is different, but it is still a place where people come to faith, and the mission advances.
Sadly, the number of people who feel guilty not being in church shrinks daily, Ditto with the number of people who will serve at a church because they feel they should. Interestingly, Jesus never appealed to people out of guilt or obligation. He invited people. The future church will as well.
Church and worship are still vital. Because, Jesus, authentically and clearly presented, engages.
To these churches celebrating anniversaries it is proof that church still works.

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