Amiable Baptist Church is as serious about vacation Bible school as it is about missions and being God’s servants in its community.
GLENMORA – Amiable Baptist Church is as serious about vacation Bible school as it is about missions and being God’s servants in its community.
One of the first churches to be started in what is now the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Amiable is to cele-brate its 180th anniversary in September.
From its inception, members say, the church has focused in equal parts on outreach and inreach – including not only its members, but everyone in its community, which is about seven miles into the piney woods and 30 minutes south of Alexandria.
“We don’t do big things, but we do a lot of little things to help people,” said Martha Winegeart RN, long-time member and a driving force behind the church’s free medical clinic. It may be the only free Southern Baptist medical clinic in the state.
The medical clinic needs physicians to volunteer one Thursday night a year, Winegeart said. Call 318.659.3399 to reserve your night, she implores physicans from throughout central Louisiana.
“This is God’s ministry,” the nurse said. “We’re just being His hands, and at the same time we’re sharing the love of Jesus.”
In addition to the weekly clinic – please ask physicians in your church to volunteer one Thursday evening a year – Amiable has a food pantry and clothing closet; it helped stock the Mt. Olive Baptist Association’s disaster relief trailer, a laundry/shower unit; members bake cookies and gather toiletries for ditty bags to be given out at a seaman’s center; and mission trips often include construction projects.
Amiable gives 5 percent of its undesignated giving to missions through the Cooperative Program, plus 4 percent to Mt. Olive Association, and it gives about 2 percent – $500/month – support for I Am Able Ministries.
Last year it paid the cost for a professional bricklayer to go on the Brazil mission trip led by Wayne Jenkins, LBC’s evangelism/church growth director. This year it paid for a person in the community to go to a Child Evangelism Fellowship training event in New Zealand, and for two people – Amiable’s associate pastor and wife – to participate in the Brazil mission trip.
“We don’t like to have money in the bank,” lifetime member Mary K. Bass said. “It’s not doing any good for God’s work if it’s in a bank.”
The Sunday morning congregation has doubled since Bill (wife Becky) Calloway was called as pastor last August – to nearly 80 from about 40 during the time the church was without a pastor. The church previously had sponsored Calloway when he was helping build a church on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico.
“This is a loving, caring group of people,” Calloway said. “I am blessed to be their pastor.”
The members say they are blessed to be part of a church that doesn’t think just about itself.
“God can do so much more if we agree to work together,” Winegeart said.
Glenmora Baptist in Glenmora and Elwood Baptist in Forest Hill passed on to Amiable the decorations used to backdrop the Outrigger Island VBS curriculum, in yet another example of the cooperation that happens in SBC churches.
The generosity made it possible to make a strong visual presence of the theme during each Bible study class – which took place in Sunday school classrooms – as well as in the worship center and fellowship hall.
A different missions speaker talked for 20 minutes each night about what he or she did as a missionary. Steve Sidwell, from Salem, Ore., talked about the 2007 and 2008 mission trips to Brazil. He worked there as a bricklayer. This year he was able to see two of the four churches he helped build last year. The two he saw already had built additions.
“It feels good to work in the hot sun and build a church where people can worship God,” Sidwell said. “But you don’t have to go to Brazil to be a missionary.
“You can be a missionary right here in Louisiana,” Sidwell added before he showed a slideshow of Brazil 2007. “Just tell people about Jesus. That’s what missionaries do.”
Amiable member Henry Mitchell, 94, again was a VBS helper – ready to help youngsters with their craft projects. He helps in VBS every year, Mitchell said.
“It’s better to keep busy,” Mitchell gave as his explanation for helping in VBS.
The youngsters he was with had a different reason:
“He loves us.”