ALBANY — It’s moving day for New Seasons Church.
The fast-growing African American congregation has been busy loading boxes and trucks since 9 a.m. today to move from the location it has shared with Raleigh White Baptist Church since June 2015.
Pastor Marcus Glass told The Index that nearly 40 members of Mallory Baptist Association churches arrived in their work clothes at 9 a.m. this morning to help his church with the impromptu move.
A second shift of about the same number of volunteers is expected to begin arriving around 5 p.m. to continue the work. Four 24-foot moving trucks have already carried a variety of items to the church’s temporary location at Mt. Zion Baptist Church about 6 miles away.
Mallary Association disfellowshipped Raleigh White on April 3 after protracted meetings over the past two years to address concerns over subtle racism. The increasingly intense situation came to a head on March 18 when the church closed its doors to African American visitors to its homecoming service who thought they were attending New Season’s regular service, which had been slightly rescheduled.
The Association was careful to say that the relationship was discontinued because of a long history of documented problems, not the one incident.
Glass said his 130-member church will meet temporarily at the Mt. Zion location, which is currently empty and used as a ministry site during the week. The weekend use of the facilities will not conflict with the building’s other ministries, he said.
Mt. Zion is affiliated with the National Baptist Convention.
Today’s move will continue as late this evening as necessary until every item is packed and off the premises, Glass said. Then the building will be spotlessly cleaned tonight or tomorrow and keys returned to a Raleigh White representative.
New Seasons has not been contacted by a Raleigh White spokesman since the Tuesday night vote and, after the vote, Glass assumed he and his congregation would continue to meet, at least temporarily, at its host location. But in the past 24 hours the fellowship decided it was best to vacate the premises.
Glass noted that two individuals from Raleigh White were on site today to observe the activity but engaged in no conversation with himself or others.
Glass said he is grateful to the volunteers who are donating their time and energy to expedite the move. Since the growing congregation moved from another church site it has accommodate all the trapping that a congregation needs to minister … music equipment, chairs and tables for Sunday School classrooms, worship furniture, and dozens of items for its feeding and pantry ministry.
Following the January 2017 tornado the church established itself as a major resource center for families needing food and immediate supplies ranging from canned goods to diapers to paper towels and groceries. That ministry continues to this day, along with a free Wednesday dinner provided to anyone along with the regular Bible study.
The congregation has handled the situation well, Glass said. On Wednesday night, the day after the incident, New Seasons held its evening service in the chapel at Sherwood Baptist Church – one of its two sponsoring churches. The other is Unity Baptist Church in Sylvester.
Glass said that his congregation is actively seeking a more permanent location for his church, which has baptized 163 individuals in the past two years. He has already made site visits with Association Moderator Butch Knight and Vice Moderator Chad Ellis to view property that could be leased or purchased.
Associational Director of Missions Hans Wunch told The Index this afternoon that it has notified both the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Executive Committee in Nashville, TN of its actions against Raleigh White and the end of the 75-year affiliation. Raleigh White lists 253 members of the denomination’s website but averages 20 in attendance.
The story began in June 2015 when Raleigh White pastor Ronnie Kinsaul, seeing the church’s steady decline in a transitional neighborhood, sought an African American church planter to partner with the congregation. That materialized in the form of Glass, a Georgia Baptist church planter and his small-yet-growing congregation which was meeting elsewhere.
Kinsaul retired in December 2017 and observers say the relationship quickly deteriorated by members who did not share his vision for housing the congregation.
The former pastor, who has not returned to the church since his departure, told Albany television station WALB that he still still had respect for both congregations. In his statement he said:
“Knowing many of the men on the Administrative Team of the Mallary Baptist Association, I am sure that they made their decision after much prayer and consideration. It is unfortunate that such action had to be taken. I have a great love for both Raleigh White and New Season’s churches.
My prayer is that God will work in everyone’s hearts and that where repentance is needed, repentance will be asked for and where forgiveness is needed, forgiveness will be given. I also pray that people will refrain from passing on rumors and that this will be something that will make race relations better and not worse. We were all created by the same God, who died on the cross for all of us. Our God is a God of reconciliation.”
Click here to read the complete WALB story.
Click here for the initial Index report on this development.