SANDY HOOK — A building that once served as a doctor’s office could be just the prescription for reaching the lost in Kentucky’s Appalachian foothills.
Dr. Ronald Pearce, an Ashland-based optometrist, donated the building to First Baptist Church in Sandy Hook after he closed his satellite office.
“We’re considering using it as a logistics center for Baptist outreach in the area,” said Pastor Charles Johnson. “We’re looking at making some upgrades that could include creating a conference room, a kitchen and a bunk room so that we can accommodate missionaries who come to help us reach the lost in this area.”
The Kentucky Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board, concerned about dwindling numbers of churchgoers in the mountains, have been pushing to help start new congregations and to expand existing ones throughout the mountain region.
“Most people are aware of the poverty and physical needs in the region,” said KBC Missions Mobilization Coordinator Teresa Parrett. “There’s also a lot of spiritual needs that we need to meet.”
Bill Barker, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Appalachian Regional Ministries, said Elliott County, where Sandy Hook is located, is of special concern because surveys have shown that more than 80 percent of the residents are unchurched. Some surveys put the number of unchurched there at more than 90 percent.
Efforts already are underway to start a new Southern Baptist church in Elliott County, which now has fewer than 10 congregations, only two of which are tied to the SBC.
A native of Carrollton, Johnson had served in central Kentucky until being called as pastor in Sandy Hook last year. He quickly became aware of the tremendous need to get the gospel into the rural expanse around the small town.
“The number of people who don’t go to church has dropped so low that it’s almost to the level of some third world countries,” Johnson said. “We want to do all we can to change that, and we’re hopeful that this building might play a role in reaching the lost.”