A small brick church on a two-lane highway in West Tennessee has been witness to more than a century of history and change. Roan’s Creek Church of Christ, located just north of Lexington in Carroll County, celebrated 188 years of worship and service on May 5.
The church was started in 1825 and is considered the “mother church” for the Churches of Christ denomination in West Tennessee, said member Eileen Pritchard. There is even a historical marker on Tenn. 22 and Roan’s Creek Church Road detailing that fact, she said.
The church’s minister is Mark Simons.
“We have about 80 members,” Pritchard said.
A lot of people come back to see friends and family during the anniversary celebrations, she said. Many are born and raised in the church before growing up and moving away. And the church has been sitting on the same spot since it was established 40 years before the Civil War.
“That’s where we grew up going to church,” Pritchard said. “It’s been in the same location all these years. As far as they can tell, it was the first Church of Christ church established in this part of the country.”
The official state historical marker on Tenn. 22 states: “Roans Creek Church — In July, 1825, William and Mary Billingsley Holmes and daughter Polly Holmes, Christopher and Elizabeth Wood Gist, and Levi McWhirter and wife met in a grove of large oaks directly to the west and organized a Bible School. This was the beginning of the first Church of Christ in West Tennessee. In early days, camp meetings were held the first week in October.”
The church holds an anniversary celebration every year, Pritchard said.
“It’s a good time of year,” she said. “You get to see people. We have a cemetery across the road from the church. It’s just a small church. I’ve gone there my whole life except for the 30 years I lived in Memphis.”
The celebration draws a lot of people, old and young. Members enjoy the history lesson and appreciate where they are today, Pritchard said.
“We like looking through old church directories to see how many people have gone on,” she said. “One of our oldest members can no longer come, so they take Communion to her every weekend. We have a lot of young children and a youth minister now. It’s good to have the building full; it’s a good time for everybody.”
“We all have an inner desire to be filled with something,” said Craig Swearingen, minister of Bridgeport’s Meadowbrook Church of Christ.
Drugs, alcohol and sex “will still leave you feeling empty,” he said. “God won’t leave you feeling empty.”
“Nothing fills (the void) other than God,” Swearingen said.
Bridgeport's Meadowbrook Church of Christ offers a family atmosphere where there is no one better than anyone else, according to the minister there.
Staff photo by Leslie Moses
Welcome to Meadowbrook Church of Christ, a place that connects people to the God who fills.
Even church members can live “lives of quiet desperation — at times,” according to Mike Conley, longtime church member.
“They have some issues with their spouses, and their children and ... work,” Conley said.
“They can become quite frustrated and troubled, and I think they need a church family that they can come to,” he said.
“Discussion” is how Swearingen describes the church’s Wednesday night service.
It’s a time to bring questions and concerns.
People learn there that others struggle with the same problems that they face, according to Conley.
They “just basically put it in the hands of God and be patient,” Conley said.
In the meantime, they’re among “family.”
“I’d say it’s the family atmosphere, relationships with one another, getting out into the community and doing things” that make Meadowbrook special, according to Swearingen.
He likes the Bible passage in 1 Corinthians 12:12 about one body, many parts.
“We all have special traits and abilities,” he said. There is “none better than anyone else.”
Like in a family, it takes everyone to make everything work, he said.
And as in a family, Swearingen asks, “Do you really care what they’re wearing?”
It doesn’t matter at Meadowbrook, either: “We don’t care about that kind of thing,” he said.
But they care about the Bible — a lot.
And helping others, they care about that, too.
Church members believe that the Bible “is the true word of God,” Conley said.
At the core of their beliefs is the passage in Acts 2:38, according to Swearingen.
The gist: “Repent and be baptized ... for the forgiveness of your sins ... ”
“We preach the truth; we speak the truth,” Conley said.
And as far as outreach, “We do a lot of stuff,” he said.
Meadowbrook Church of Christ members serve breakfast at the Clarksburg Mission once a month.
Weekly, they’re taking food to Morgantown to Chestnut Mountain Ranch, a Christian-based facility that helps boys who are troubled, according to Swearingen.
Church members also pay for food for area schoolchildren to eat during weekends, and host a coat and clothing drive, among other aid.
“We help one another, help the community,” Conley said.
“If Jesus was a servant to all people, then we need to follow his example,” he said.
Meadowbrook meets Sundays and Wednesdays.
Sundays: Bible class begins at 9:30 a.m.; worship starts at 10:30 a.m.; evening service begins at 6 p.m.
Wednesday: “It’s a round-table discussion,” Conley said, that begins at 7 p.m.
© Copyright 2013, The Exponent Telegram , Clarksburg, WV
|American Red Cross worker Bob Tyler loads food boxes to be distributed to residents of Stewart County, Tennessee, who were affected by recent flash floods. The provisions, a two-week food supply for the average family, are provided by the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort of Nashville, Tennessee. The work in Tennessee continues the long-term collaboration between the Red Cross and the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort. / Contributed/Robert W. Wallace|
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. May 1, 2013 — In the four days since violent flash floods ripped through several small communities, the Red Cross has been working to help as families clean up their belongings and try to rebuild their homes and lives.
Many local agencies have also stepped up to partner with the Red Cross in their relief efforts. The Southern Baptist Shower and Laundry Trailer arrived from Jackson, Tenn. Wednesady, and is currently stationed outside the Carlisle Missionary Baptist Church in Carlisle for local residents to utilize.
“We are so appreciative of the support of our community partners like the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Southern Baptists and Signature Healthcare for collaborating with us on this relief effort,” said Julie Campos, Executive Director of the Two Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross.
To date, in response to the flood, the Red Cross has served & distributed:
• 1262 meals
• 1100 snacks
• 5,250 bottles of water
• 311 clean-up kits
• 99 comfort kits and 2130 bulk distribution items (i.e. shovels, mops, brooms and clean-up supplies) distribution items distributed throughout the communities.
Three shelters were initially opened in response to flash flooding in Clarksville (Montgomery County), Dover (Stewart County) and Erin (Houston County) 54 residents stayed in the shelters overnight on April 28th. The Red Cross has since sheltered a total of 99 residents overnight as of May 1st.
Many roads are still washed out and inaccessible, but Red Cross volunteers were able to conduct additional damage assessment reports in Henry, Montgomery and Stewart counties on Wednesday. There are now an estimated 440 homes affected between 5 counties. Eight homes were destroyed from the flood with 28 others sustaining major damage. Currently, the Red Cross is continuing to provide food, clean-up kits and shelter.
Donald Adair, a Church of Christ elder and owner of the West, Texas, fertilizer facility that caught fire and exploded Wednesday night, says his heart is “broken with grief for the tragic losses to so many families in our community.”
“My family and I can’t express enough our deep appreciation for the loving service and selfless sacrifice from within and around our community responding to the urgent needs of those affected,” Adair said in a statement issued Friday. “I am proud to be associated with West Church of Christ, which has opened its doors to the State of Texas to provide grief counseling services. My family and I will continue to assist in relief efforts through our church family.”
Adair’s full statement:
This has been a terrible week for everyone in West, Texas, and I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt sympathy for those affected and my appreciation for those who responded.
As a lifelong resident, my heart is broken with grief for the tragic losses to so many families in our community. I know that everyone has been deeply affected by this incident. Loved ones have been injured or killed. Homes have been damaged or destroyed. Our hearts go out to everyone who has suffered.
The selfless sacrifice of first responders who died trying to protect all of us is something I will never get over. I was devastated to learn that we lost one of our employees in the explosion. He bravely responded to the fire at the facility as a volunteer firefighter. I will never forget his bravery and his sacrifice, or that of his colleagues who rushed to the trouble.
This tragedy will continue to hurt deeply for generations to come.
My family and I can’t express enough our deep appreciation for the loving service and selfless sacrifice from within and around our community responding to the urgent needs of those affected. I am proud to be associated with West Church of Christ, which has opened its doors to the State of Texas to provide grief counseling services. My family and I will continue to assist in relief efforts through our church family.
The genuine kindness we have witnessed will be the hallmark for all of our children’s children.
Going forward, the owners and employees of Adair Grain and West Fertilizer Co. are working closely with investigating agencies. We are presenting all employees for interviews and will assist in the fact finding to whatever degree possible. We pledge to do everything we can to understand what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again in any community.
While the investigation continues, and out of respect for the investigative process, we will limit our comments during the weeks and months ahead.
AP reported Thursday that the company ”had been cited by regulators for what appeared to be minor safety and permitting violations over the past decade.”
By Jeremy Schwartz American-Statesman Staff
For half a century, West Fertilizer Co has been a fixture in the town of West, a place where generations of area farmers have gotten custom mixes of nitrate, potash and phosphorus to feed their fields and keep their hay pastures green.
Similar to scores of other small- to medium-sized fertilizer blenders and distributors across the state, it has played a vital role in the farming life of a wide swath of McLennan County.
Before the plant exploded Wednesday evening shortly after closing time, 13 employees worked there. They produced about 5,000 tons of fertilizer a year for local farmers, often custom blended for specific soil types and times of year, according to state records.
“There’s no question that business has done a lot for that town,” said Gary Payne, owner of Brazos Feed and Supply in nearby Waco, who first shopped at the plant in the 1980s when he worked as a hay baler. “In agriculture, you got to have fertilizer, and that was the backbone of that area. In small rural places like that, that’s what it’s like.”
Similarly prominent is the company’s owner, West patriarch Donald Adair, 83, whose family also owns an adjacent grain and farming business. Adair, who bought the fertilizer plant less than a decade ago, was born and raised in West, where several of his children still live.
“The man is devastated by what’s happened,” said West resident Len Martin, who attends the West Church of Christ, where Adair has long served as an elder. “This is just a very hard thing. There are no absolute answers, no easy words to make it go away.”
Adair was attending Bible study when fire broke out at his plant Wednesday evening, according to the Church of Christ’s official organ, the Christian Chronicle.
Martin said Adair is a deeply faithful man who had earned a strong reputation in town.
“I have not heard of anyone in the community who didn’t have respect for the man,” Martin said. “The man has honesty and integrity.”
West Fertilizer began as Texas Grain and was founded in 1958 by the Plasek family, according to court documents in a civil case brought by Adair against the Monsanto Co. in 2007. In 1960, the fledgling company “built a small fertilizer blend plant for farmers in the area and started selling fertilizer and grain storage services for other farmers in Texas,” according to the records.
“The town grew up and around that fertilizer plant,” Payne said. “It’s a staple. That’s how agriculture works.”
West’s Church of Christ opened its doors Thursday for those who lost everything in the explosion. By Thursday afternoon, the church was filling up as donations rolled in.
"Tomorrow, we'll bring a truck in from Nashville, Tennessee,” Ken Leonard with the church said.
The only problem this church has now is finding a place to put it all.
"We're going to have to start using some of the churches in Waco because the church here obviously has limited storage space," Leonard said.
The church’s bounty was a welcome sight for 20-year-old Christopher Lash. He walked in wearing everything he had left after the explosion destroyed likely his home.
"Everything that I put in the apartment is more than likely destroyed," Lash said.
He said he was overwhelmed with the support for his small town.
“I came here in expecting to pick up a jacket, and I was able to get everything I needed from toilet paper to soap and toothbrushes," he said.
For Leonard, this is his way to shine some light on a community navigating its darkest day.
"It restores your faith in human nature," he said.
The Church of Christ will continue to accept donations of clothing, water, food and water.
YNN-Austin © 2013 Time Warner Cable Enterprises LLC. All Rights Reserved.
In the small Texas town rattled by a fertilizer plant explosion that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others Wednesday night, many residents displaced from their homes gathered in the pews at the West Church of Christ.
Donald Adair, a West Church of Christ elder, owns the plant, according to Forbes. He was at the congregation’s Wednesday Bible study when he learned of a fire at the plant and headed that way, family members said.
West Church of Christ minister Ernie Albrecht, his wife, Amanda, and his four young children lost their home and pets in the explosion, reported Catherine Mitchell Rochell, office manager for the 8th and Harrison Church of Christ in Harlingen, Texas.
“They were spared only because of being at church,” Rochelle said of the Albrechts.
Ernie Albrecht worked part time as a nurse for West Rest Haven, a nursing home leveled by the blast.
Dan Martin, a deacon of the 8th and Harrison church, said his parents, Len and Peggy Martin, are members of the West Church of Christ and took in an elderly couple who lost their home.
“That’s just one of many, many examples of neighbors helping neighbors,” Dan Martin told The Christian Chronicle.
The elderly man had lifted debris off his wife after the explosion blew out their home’s windows and the roof caved in, Martin said.
The New Road Church of Christ in Waco, Texas, about 20 miles south of West, will work with the West congregation to coordinate relief efforts. (For information on helping, call New Road elder Alan Ritchie at (254) 366-2892.)
“There’s devastation everywhere,” Ritchie told the Chronicle. “We have lots of different Churches of Christ calling and wishing to help in some way. We would welcome all the help we can get.”
Ritchie said it appears that three West church families — including the Albrechts — sustained severe damage to their homes, but no members were injured.
At the church building, the displaced residents “traded stories about how they had escaped the explosion and fires, and shared information about the whereabouts of friends, family and neighbors,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
More from the Journal:
“Cellphones don’t work so the only way to find out what happened to people is to ask folks around town,” said Gary Parma, 50, who came to the church with his wife, Diane.
The Parmas, who own Al’s Cleaners in West, were outside on the deck of their home when they saw the house of a neighbor two doors down go up in a cloud of smoke.
Soon after, the windows of their own home caved in. A sheriff came by and told them they had to leave. Still in polka-dot and plaid pajamas, the Parmas grabbed their dog, Boo, and drove to the church.
The West Church of Christ is assessing needs, according to the congregation’s Facebook page.
In response to prayer requests and offers to help posted on the website, a church representative posted early this morning:
Thank you for all your prayers. We will find out more about the needs when day light breaks. The nursing home was hit hard and all the families who had to leave their homes will be big needs for sure. I will post more details how people can help when we learn more. Blessings to all our Christian brothers and sisters.
Online now, find our recent coverage of tensions on the Korean peninsula. The story focuses on Sang Yang, who speaks in the video. Yang is a Church of Christ minister and director of the Bible Correspondence Center, or BCC, in Seoul, South Korea. His journey from poverty to providence parallels the story of his country — now one of Asia’s most affluent nations.
Usually I don't get great photos in airports, but I scrambled to un-bury my camera and shoot when I saw this royal procession in the international terminal at the Incheon Airport in Seoul, just before returning to the U.S. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)
Yang — and many of his fellow Korean Christians — long for the day when they will be reunited with family members in North Korea. The two nations have been separated by the Demilitarized Zone for 60 years.
Also online, find a report on a recent Korean Mission Forum in the Fort Worth, Texas, area. The forum featured Malcolm Parsley, a longtime missionary in South Korea, and Stephen Wolf, who worked with Churches of Christ there while he was stationed in Korea with the U.S. Air Force. He and his family plan to return to the peninsula and help plant new churches.
I was blessed to meet Yang during two lengthy layovers in Seoul. I was en route to and from the Philippines, where I tagged along on a mission trip sponsored by Bread for a Hungry World. Look for features from the trip soon. (A big thanks to the ministry’s director, Bobby Moore, for booking flights for me that allowed me to get a brief glimpse of South Korea.)
Yang took me to an amazing Korean barbecue restaurant during my first layover. I hoped to return the favor by making him a YouTube sensation, just like Korean rapper Psy, whose “Gangnam Style” video is the most watched in YoutTube history. (I’d even settle for “I Murdered my Wisdom Teeth” numbers.)
No such luck … yet. (By the way, I viewed a few seconds of Psy’s new video before stopping it. Yuck. Psy, let me be among the first to welcome you to the status of one-hit wonder.)
from the Christian Chronicle Blog
Waves from the Atlantic crest near the shore in Ocean City, Md., where minister Cliff Holladay was paralyzed. In the inset photo, Holladay and his wife, Becky, are shown before the accident. (Photo by Tex Jobe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
Cliff Holladay, a Maryland minister paralyzed in a beach accident last year, has died. He was 62.
“He inspired many of us with his determination following his accident,” said Steve Mahoney, minister for the Newark Church of Christ in Delaware.
Holladay died this afternoon at Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown, Md., reported Alan Deckard, an elder of the Westside Church of Christ. His wife, Becky, and son, Caleb, were with him.
“Let’s keep praying for Becky and Caleb and reach out to them over the days to come to help them through this time of loss,” Deckard wrote in an e-mail to church members.
The church earlier established a special needs trust fund to help the family:
Cliff Holladay Family Fund P.O. Box 21085 Catonsville, MD 21228
Gifts may be sent directly to the trust (not tax deductible) or through a church (tax deductible). Tax-deductible gifts may be sent to Westside Church of Christ with a memo stating it is for Cliff Holladay.
Westside Church of Christ 7009 Johnnycake Road Baltimore, MD 21244
from the Christian Chronicle Blog
“Whoever he is, we love him as our neighbor, hey!”
That’s how Phil Robertson, elder of the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La., and star of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” responded to British singer/songwriter Morrissey’s boycott of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” due to an appearance by Robertson and his family on the late-night talk show.
Robertson also offered to have a Bible study with Morrissey, and appeared to make Kimmel just a little bit uncomfortable when he started preaching near the end of the interview.
Robertson, along with sons Willie and Jase and brother Si, appeared on Kimmel’s show to promote the third season of their reality-based TV show, “Duck Dynasty,” which debuts Feb. 27 on A&E.
Jase, Si, Willie and Phil Robertson, stars of "Duck Dynasty" (Photo provided by A&E)
When Morrissey, an outspoken animal rights activist, found out they would be appearing on the program, he canceled his performance on the same night. Morrissey said he could not “morally be on a television program where the cast members of ‘Duck Dynasty’ will also be guests,” according to Kimmel, who also said that the recording artist had told him that, “as far as my reputation is concerned, I can’t take the risk of being on a show alongside people who, in effect, amount to animal serial killers.”
Morrissey (whose full name is Steven Patrick Morrissey) is a solo artist and former lead singer of The Smiths, a popular British band that, in 1985, released an album titled “Meat is Murder.” Among their biggest hits is the 1984 song “How Soon is Now?” (“You shut your mouth; How can you say; I go about things the wrong way? I am human and I need to be loved; Just like everybody else does”)
“We need a Bible study with him, but other than that …” Robertson said, before Kimmel cut him off, praising the Robertson family for the meals around the table featured at the end of each “Duck Dynasty” episode.
He didn’t mention the prayer that precedes those meals, but Phil Robertson seized the opportunity nonetheless.
“Kimmel, the only hope that an atheist has is that he not be there,” Phil Robertson said. “That ain’t much of a hope. Y’see what I’m sayin’?”
“Amen,” Kimmel replied.
Morrissey (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
|PHOTO BY LORI EASTERLY
New life for duck fan - Jase Robertson immerses Brandon Hooks for the forgiveness of sins at the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La.