We are enjoying our ministry teaching at Mansfield Baptist Temple, while working with Adam Giess Siding Company I received a call from Willie Weaver, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Connersville, Indiana. I do not remember where he got my name. Charity and I traveled to Connersville, and visited with Willie at a restaurant. While we were there, he hired us to come to be the Youth Pastor, Bus Director, and Children’s Church Director.
As we drove up from Mansfield and drove on to the Church’s parking lot, we were just amazed at how big the church building was. Calvary Baptist was started by Herbert Fitzpatrick in 1947. When Bro Fitzpatrick was a teenager, he was in my dad’s church. When he left Connersville, he went to Maryland, and pastored the largest church in Maryland.
Also Bro. A.V. Henderson was Pastor of Calvary for a few years, then he pastored the Temple Baptist Church in Detroit, Dr. J. Frank Norris’s former church.
So this church had a great history up until just before we came. The church buildings were large. At one time this church had over 1500 in attendance. Just before we came, there was a split and another group started the Connersville Baptist Temple.
But as we pondered moving to Connersville, and working full time, with full time pay, we were in awe. It was a great church, good pay, and an excellent ministry with the youth.
As Youth Pastor, we were responsible over the Jr Hi, and Sr, Hi, and the College and Career.
We had a great staff from the church: M/M Bill Newkirk, M/M Andy Pitcher, M/M Charlie Cox and M/M Bob Milligan, and M/M Mel Martin.in our Youth Department.
In our Bus Ministry we had a great staff: M/M Charlie Cox, Jim Zornes, Mike Baker, Hubert Wilson, Diana Crist, Randy Resnick, and M/M Mark Melhorn. There were four buses and three vans.
In our Children’s Church Ministry we had a great staff: M/M Ray Lester, Mrs. Verna Brunner, Linda Bandy, and assistant was my lovely wife Charity.
How could you not think that this would be a wonderful ministry? Our Senior High Class was in the Dome Building. This was a beautiful dome like room where you really could have a nice size church. I cannot tell you how awed I felt merely to be working in this ministry.
It’s only as I review this ministry today, that I am still confused as to what went wrong. I would rather review some of the good events that happened while there. At least from my point of view.
The church had just been through a bad church split. The youth were angry because of the split. And thus to gain their respect was rather hard. Some of the kids were rather disrespectful in class and on church outings.
As a church staff, we met daily at the church, and talked over the ministry. I really was glad we were working at the church.
We were in charge of the Bus Ministry, and I must say we didn’t seem to do very well. Certainly nothing like at Gideon Baptist Church, where we were very successful. I am rather in the dark about why we were not very successful. But we still had over seventy coming on the buses and our goal was set for one hundred and twenty-five.
The church did not have a Children’s Ministry when we arrived at Calvary. We were seeing a lot of families leave after Sunday School and not staying for church. We believed the way to increase the worship service attendance was to have a good children’s program.
This was the most successful and fulfilling ministry that we had. We invited Garry Wade who was in Seminary with us to come, Garry was Children/Bus Director at Thomas Road Bapist in Lynchburg. Va. Garry stayed with us, and we learned about the Children’s Ministry. He was just outstanding.
We began to establish a Children’s Ministry, first by building a puppet set. We actually built a small set of buildings. We bought some double-wall cardboard 6'x4' and build a theater screen. This set covered the length of the dome. We called this ministry: "The Backyard Church." I am not sure why. We had puppets, which we made. My personal favorite and the star of the puppet ministry was O.D. Dragan. I was the voice behind O.D. Charity was the front person who talked to O.D. We had a bakery, candy story, toy story, a jail, and a couple other buildings.
Mel Martin was an electrican and he set us up with all kinds of lighting and sound. We had the state of the art sound and lighting for the time. This was a first class Children’s Ministry.
Over 80 kids came each week and we had such a wonderful time in this ministry. Attendance topped over one hundred several times.
In the mean time I was the Youth Pastor as well. The name we took was "The Youth Action Ministry." Our spring goal was 100 and we reached 100 young people in our Youth Action Division. We also had a good Word of Life Program. We would meet at the Milligan home for the Word of Life Club. We had several all nighters. Once the youth went to Indianapolis for an all nigher. I believe we took two buses and over 50 kids. We went to the Red’s baseball games, we took nearly 100 kids. Activities were great and many would come, but on the other hand when we had any kind of Bible fellowship we would have Alan Harris show up and maybe Teresa Mills would too.
End of Part One:
Proof read, spell check, by Charity Whisnant