In the fall of 1980, I was searching for a church home. Though a member of another local congregation, I knew that I needed to be elsewhere. For months, I cycled from church to church but, though invited often, would not go to “that big church downtown.” I had no clue what I was missing. I finally came, unannounced, in frustration, because I never believed it would be a fit. I immediately knew that God had something for me to do there. The week after my initial (and only visit), I moved my letter and went to Sunday School. That was the Sunday following Dr. Pollard’s first resignation as pastor.
Not many months later, the choir sang Tom Fettke’s The Majesty and Glory of Your Name. Based on Psalm 8, The Majesty and Glory is probably the most uniquely inspired choir anthem of my generation. I did not know a lot of folks in the choir but a found connection and showed up at choir rehearsal about eight weeks before Carols 1981. And the rest, you might say, is history. Three times I served as Choir President, twice as Vice President, multiple times as section leader, and for some twenty-five years now (starting in 1988 with Carols at the Coliseum) have served formally or informally as the manager of choir logistics for the music ministry production team. Though called to do other things during my years at FBCJ (taught Sunday School, worked with Children’s Choirs, lead a small group), His direction on this logistics business has never changed. Trust me. There have been days that I want that direction to change!
One other long term commitment also came because of my involvement at FBCJ. His name is Steve Litchfield. We were dating during Carols at the Coliseum in 1988 and he was in the cast and crew starting that year. He married me anyway. It is the only church we have ever shared and there until Jesus comes again unless the Lord literally picks us up and moves us!
Sunday we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of First Baptist Jackson. I was there for the 150th and I hope to be there for the 200th (Lord Willing). It will be a great day of celebration. It should, as well, be “the end of the beginning” for God still has things for us to do and we cannot do them if we just sit and wait on folks to come to us and do things “our way”.
I think Luke 12:48 (NIV) says it best: But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
First Baptist Jackson has been incredibly blessed. We fall without question into the category of being “entrusted with much” as described in this great verse. God’s expectations for us are clear – He requires our obedience, our love, our flexibility, and our waiting on Him. Most of all He requires our hearts – our changed hearts – so that we can share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. Scripture is clear. God will hold us accountable for what we do with what He has given us.
Happy Birthday FBCJ! Looking forward to what God is going to in the years to come!
All photos are by Rushing Images for First Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi.