MONROE — It wasn’t planned, but in a sermon nearly two years ago at Grace Baptist Church Pastor Tommy Fountain, Sr. stated, “Grace is the place.” The phrase caught on and became part of an overall revitalization for the 11-year-old congregation in Appalachee Association.
“It’s based off of 2 Chronicles 7:15,” says Fountain, “‘Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.’ We refer to that as ‘Grace 7:15’ and ask for people to pause at 7:15 – a.m. or p.m. – to pray for our church.
“Prayer has been the key for our recent growth, as it started a strong prayer ministry.”
Grace has seen that growth numerically with increased worship attendance from 150 to 280, Fountain says. Updated facilities also helped, as a new soundboard, screens, and projector were installed. The sanctuary’s platform was renovated, new shades placed on the windows, and improvements made to students’ and children’s areas as well as the worship center.
“Even though our church is pretty young, we meet in a sanctuary built in 1940 and education building built in 1970 on an acre-and-a-half in a mill village,” Fountain added.
“‘Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.’ We refer to that as ‘Grace 7:15’ and ask for people to pause at 7:15 – a.m. or p.m. – to pray for our church.”
A stable financial situation strongly supported the facility upgrades and helped bring in 359 children – the church’s largest group ever – to this year’s Vacation Bible School with 25 salvations. On Feb. 22 the church added a second service and Sunday School hour to accommodate growth.
In addition, the church’s current budget includes a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program, boosting its giving from 1% last year to 5.25% in 2015. Giving to Appalachee Association also increased from $1,200 to $4,000. A gift of $2,500 is slated for the Annie Armstrong Mission Offering after a two-year absence in the budget and giving to the Lottie Moon offering for international missions has grown steadily from $400 in 2013 to $4,126 the next year before reaching $7,592 in 2015.
“It’s been exciting,” says Fountain. “We moved to one service for the summer, but it’s been full. At one point I wondering if I would be a pastor again, but this is fun.”