Sunday, April 20, 2014 - free extensions for joomla

LOOKING UP • JOE BAISDEN | A tribute to a country church that is thriving

One of the joys of being “retired” these last 10 years, after serving the same pulpit for 33 years, is the privilege of visiting and serving other churches from time to time.  In addition to helping eleven congregations as interim minister during these ten years, there has been the delightful relationship that has developed from occasionally doing Sunday preaching for the Pearl Church of Christ and conducting the church’s summer revival for ten consecutive years.
Last Sunday, the third Sunday in October, marked the 118th anniversary of the founding of the church in 1895.  I spoke for the anniversary service a time or two, but in recent years have requested to be the song leader with Edward Schaub preaching.
Ed, a Baylor University professor, has done fill-in preaching at Pearl for 33 years.  As he began his timely message Sunday, he suggested that the church has not just survived during the long years of continuous worship, but it has flourished in service to the Lord and the community.  Eighty-six folks filled the little building built in 1895 with heartfelt praise.  We celebrated the Lord’s blessings through the past years and prayed for those blessings to continue in the years to come.

What makes the Pearl church so special?  Many a country congregation has closed its doors when there is no longer a business community existing nearby.   A year or so ago, the little store and gas station seven miles away at Purmela went out of business.  Now the nearest businesses to Pearl are found in Evant, eleven miles away, and Gatesville, twice that far.  Susan Smith from Belton, visiting the church one Sunday asked, “What do these people do?  There’s no Wal-Mart here!”
The old school building has been converted into a community center and is well known to Blue Grass lovers for its monthly concerts.
As generations pass away, there are not a lot of folks moving into northwest Coryell County.  A few do move into the area and find their way to Pearl Church.  Ron Ray, a church leader asked a family that moved into the area and chose the Pearl church, “Why did you decide to make this your church home?”  They answered, “Sincerity and simplicity.”
It was a beautiful day Sunday.  Following the service, the members and guests moved across the churchyard to the tabernacle (built in 1904 and last summer served over 90 young people enjoying VBS) where a delicious barbecue lunch was waiting.  With the weather as cool as it was, only a few remained there to eat.  Most made their way to the fellowship room that was added on to the original church structure in l980.  There they could eat and be near the large array of homemade desserts.
Earlier, as the service ended a number of acknowledgement were made and gifts given.  When it appeared that all the gifts had been presented, Chris Ray called me forward to receive a special gift.  It was large and beautifully wrapped.  I was instructed to open the package in front of everyone.  It felt like a medium-sized suitcase.  As I tore the paper, and beginning to realize the nature of the gift, I exclaimed, “You didn’t buy by trumpet back that I sent to the Cherokee Children’s Home Auction, did you?   Oh . . . YOU DID!”
So Janelle and I left the Pearl church 118th Anniversary bringing home my cornet that I played in the ACU Orchestra and Band in the late 50s.
I have just told you something of the character of the congregation that has a lot to do with why it continues to thrive against the modern odds.
“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 1:6