Union—Union Baptist Church has a long history. Established in 1887, the congregation completed its first sanctuary three years later. The church updated its sanctuary in 1949 and felt led to do so again a half-century later. The church then added an educational building in 1968. But, as any church will tell you, decisions like these are not easy ones for members bear the burden for many years.
“The newness of our worship center lasted for several months, and it was truly a blessing, then reality set in,” said Arnie Forman, associate pastor and minister of music at Union Baptist. “We had a mortgage (to pay off).”
By 2011, the church had cut the debt roughly in half. Yet, there still was a long way to go. Progress on paying off a worship center, built from 1999-2000, was slowed due to a couple of pastors on staff deciding to accept calls elsewhere.
That’s when one of the deacons challenged the congregation to pay off the debt as quickly as possible in order to position the church for greater ministry opportunities, Forman said.
“No one disagreed that we needed to be debt free,” he added, “but some questioned whether we could make much ground in such bad economic times.”
The first Sunday of the month was designated as “Gifts Sunday,” in which the church body would go above its tithe to pay off the mortgage quickly. While members were welcome to give any Sunday, the first Sunday of each month was emphasized.
“The Lord received our gifts of faith, and with His blessing what had taken the previous 11 years to accomplish was achieved in four years,” noted Forman.
The church celebrated its payoff with a church-wide picnic and mortgage note-burning June 12. “The church gathered together, humbled by God’s grace and love, and praised Him as Jehovah Jireh; ‘God our provider’.”
Randy Jones, interim senior pastor at Union Baptist, issued a challenge to not rest on the recent accomplishment of paying off the mortgage, but rather look ahead to the future. “Look unto the subdivisions and the abundant numbers of people all around our church building who need to know Christ as Savior and Lord,” he urged. “Let’s pray and seek God’s direction for future evangelism and growth. Let’s claim the city of Union for Christ!” (WR)