University of Mobile Helps Revitalize Nearby Church

University of Mobile freshman Madilyn Donald cleans pews at First Baptist Church Chickasaw, Ala. A few days later, Donald sang with the UM ensemble Sofree as the congregation worshiped in its sanctuary for the first time in over a year. University of Mobile photo

Reid Guy, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Chickasaw, Ala., doesn’t want to be a statistic.

“Statistics show that 100 churches across our country close their doors every week,” he said. “And we don’t think God is ready for us to be one of those 100.”

It takes prayer, hard work and many hands to revitalize a 30-member church that once attracted 1,200 worshipers. Some of those hands belong to more than 120 University of Mobile students in the Alabama School of the Arts. The school used its annual Project Serve event Oct. 25 to help FBC Chickasaw accomplish major projects that would have taken the church years to complete on its own.

“This was a megachurch before we really had the term megachurch, and it has the facilities to accommodate all that came with a large church,” Guy said. “First Baptist Chickasaw was a hub for our community.”

The church has seen its share of struggles. Membership has fallen to around 30. They were close to shutting the doors when Guy expressed interest in becoming pastor. Guy is married to Lori Guy, UM assistant professor of music.

“I began interviewing for the role as senior pastor in May and obviously saw the struggle,” Guy said. “But also found that this church was not ready to close its doors.”

Since he began in September, the church is averaging around 50 people on Sundays, has had new members join and has launched a new children’s ministry.

But there is still a lot of work to be done on the church building, and that is where UM students stepped in.

UM president Lonnie Burnett said the university emphasizes student involvement in local churches, and this Project Serve event symbolizes that partnership.

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Source: Baptist Press