Sharing our Stories…Marie Parks

April 30, 2010

By Marie Parks, South Main Member

Marie Parks is actively involved at South Main as a College Community Leader, singing in the Sanctuary Choir, and leading in Youth Choir programs.

I came to South Main as a college student church-sick for Ardmore Baptist Church, the North Carolina church in which I had grown up. Resigning myself to the fact that I wouldn’t find another Ardmore in Houston, I started searching for a new family of faith to call my own.

First on my list to explore was South Main, the church my parents had attended as newlyweds and where I had briefly been on the cradle roll. I discovered that my parents had had great reason to attend! The worship I experienced was honest and profound, my Sunday School community welcomed me and all my questions with open arms, and the music ministry immediately provided me with a place to share my creative gifts.

One of the most basic ways South Main ministered to me was by offering courses like Financial Peace University and Discovery Weekend that have given me dedicated time to explore my life and spiritual development. I encourage everyone to participate in these!

When I had the pleasure of serving on a committee, I was amazed to see how much thought and care goes into South Main’s ministries. I have never known a church to be so organized and focused on caring for every single member, visitor, and neighbor (both locally and globally speaking).

My South Main friends have been an incredible community of support by encouraging, listening to, and teaching me, and by providing a home-away-from-home, such that South Main has truly become my home.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010


Sharing Our Stories…Claire Frazier

April 29, 2010

By Claire Frazier, South Main Member

Claire Frazier is married to Joe Frazier.  She is active in our Music Ministry, starring in several productions of Bach to Broadway, South Main’s Summer Musical.

A few years ago our family was homeless. Not in the way you might think. We had a lovely house that was home to our family of 5. What we did not have was a church home. And although we had no lack of shelter, food or clothing, being “church homeless” was very distressing to us.

We spent a long time visiting churches in Houston, carrying our mental checklist for comparison – beautiful worship space, inspired preaching, strong music and youth programs and on and on. We stayed in some places longer than others, but still yearned for something more – a place to belong, a community, and the assurance of God’s will for our decision. I became so unsettled about the matter that I commented to Joe, “What if something happens to one of us? Without a church family, who would we call for help?”

South Main was home to many of our friends, and we had visited from time to time over the years. But at the time of our search, South Main was without a pastor. And fearful of getting involved during that period of uncertainty, we crossed it off of our “short list”. God, however, continued to nudge us in the direction of the church at 4100 Main Street. Our son Stephen had become active in the youth program after accepting an invitation from his friends. He soon made the decision to join and was baptized. Our friends began inviting us to worship every Sunday and our daughter Annie’s friends began inviting her to Sunday School and Youth Camp.

One particular Sunday, Thomas Coker invited me to sing for worship. And the next day something did happen to one of us. I received a phone call from M. D. Anderson with the news that I had cancer. The whirlwind that followed is a blur except for a few important details – Steve Wells was immediately by our side to support us and pray with us. The people of South Main surrounded us with love and prayers. And God’s voice was unmistakable on the morning you promised to be His family for us in this place, our new home.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing our Stories…Vincent Bellone

April 28, 2010

By Vincent Bellone, South Main Member

Vincent Bellone is a new member at South Main Baptist Church.  Vincent is a member of the Prime Timers Sunday School Community and enjoys participating in missions work.

When I moved to Houston in March of 2009, It was important to me to find a church that preached the Bible and practiced unselfish love. When I tragically lost my son and wife three months apart in 2002, it was my church family in Los Angeles that got me through it and whom God used to heal my pain and restore my faith. This is the reason the church is so important to me and why I looked for another church family in Houston.

I visited over eight other churches before I visited South Main, but felt no warmth or love when I walked into them What drew me to South Main Baptist Church was the heartfelt emotion and passion Pastor Steve Wells had in his sermons. I also enjoyed the children’s sermon and seeing Dolores Rader bring the children to the altar where they heard about God’s love. So experiencing all this unselfish love, I decided to fill out the visitor’s card. Then two days later Tom Williams called and introduced himself. Also, I received twenty three letters from people I didn’t know who were telling me to come back and be a part of their church family! They didn’t know that I had been grieving the loss of my wife and son for eight years, and how I still needed to receive unselfish love.

But I also know that when you receive love, you have to give it back two fold. So when I saw the list of all the possible ministries that were available at South Main, I knew I was home, and that God had guided me to this church for a reason. I love Steve’s Bible Study on Wednesday and sitting around the dinner table with friends. I also love all my church family in the Prime Timers’ Sunday School Class. This is why I joined South Main Baptist Church and will never leave it.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing Our Stories… Meredith Pinson-Creasey

April 28, 2010

By Meredith Pinson-Creasy, South Main Member

Meredith is married to David Creasey and they have two college aged sons, Austin and Brooks.  Meredith sings soprano in the Sanctuary Choir.

The house I’ve been building in my head for 15 years is well defined. Materials have been selected, function perfected and now room size redirected. I rebuild my “forever house” each time we move. Moving often, you either grow to love the change or you tolerate it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I love it.

Knowing a place may be temporary, finding a house to enjoy – or letting go of one – has been fairly easy. Finding the right church home has not always been so. We have been in wonderful Baptist churches all over the country, each one with unique qualities and characteristics. And characters!

Shortly after moving to Houston, our eldest son chose to move to the church his schoolmates attended and we followed so our family would be together. As we approached the time to send our youngest to college, we began thinking about the kind of church we wanted to be a part of going forward. Christian Baptist distinctives, worship, music, preaching, ministry opportunities, and location are a few things important to me when choosing a church home.

Having attended several Christmas Eve services at South Main, I knew I would enjoy being in the choir program and I’ve always known of South Main’s missions and ministry focus. I am encouraged or challenged each Sunday through Steve’s message, as well as Thomas’ understanding of the importance of worship through music.

Although we’ve been members less than a year, South Main has been a wonderful place to call home.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing our Stories… Michelle and Kirby Butler

April 26, 2010

By Michelle Butler, South Main Member

Michelle Butler is a member in the Fellowship of Young Families with her husband, Kirby.  They have also participated in Financial Peace University.  Michelle also volunteers with our children for KidQuest and other programs.

Shortly after graduating from college and getting married, Kirby and I moved to Houston. We were on an exciting, new adventure together; yet still found ourselves missing our family and church. We started visiting various churches in the area and wanted one that emphasized similar Baptist traditions we were raised on while providing a prefect place for our marriage to grow and flourish.

During our first visit to South Main, we were welcomed with open arms. We both really enjoyed the awe inspiring setting South Main offered and the way the church service’s message was applicable to our everyday lives. We were particularly excited to see the emphasis South Main had on family.

A few weeks later, we were invited to attend a Sunday school class. It was nice meeting other newly married couples and young professionals that we could relate to. From the start we had a group of people befriending us with invitations to lunch or encouraging us to get involved with various events such as FPU or KidQuest.

From time to time we would get caught up in our busy schedules, but there was always someone at South Main calling to offer us support and reengaging us to continue to grow as Christians. They remind us that we are an important part of their lives, too. They genuinely challenge us to not settle for what is easy because God has so much more in store for us.

This week, the Share Campaign is emphasizing encouraging members of South Main to re-engage members of our church family that have gotten busy or might not remember how important they are to the church family. From our own experience, I can tell you that a call or an email reminding folks about church events or just checking to make sure they are doing OK are very important. We all make a pledge to be the family of God for each other in this place and following through on that pledge is a great way to Share.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing our Stories…Steve Rader

April 23, 2010

By Steve Rader

Steve is a Sunday School Teacher, Financial Peace University Small Group Leader, Outreach Committee Chair and Deacon at South Main Baptist Church.

I have to say, living in Houston, one of the things I enjoy most in the hot summer is going to the pool with my girls. There is just something refreshing and relaxing about floating in the cool water amidst the splashing and giggling of kids having fun that is such a contrast to the oppressive hot and busy lives we lead. While I have a lot or respect for those that can arrive at the pool and immediately cannonball into the deep end, I have to admit that I tend to be more of the “ease in over a 5 minute period” type. Sure, later in the summer, when the water is lukewarm, I can wade on in… but the water is not quite as refreshing. No, for the ultimate in cool water enjoyment, I have to take my time. Occasionally, I’ll dive right in… only to have all of my nerve endings revolt for that split second… I think they remember… thus the 5 minute entry most of the time.

I was thinking about how I’ve engaged South Main over the years and I remember first coming here as a young, newlywed couple. I enjoyed the service. Eventually, we started coming to Sunday School… at first just listening… then getting to where I’d enter into discussion. I remember being very tentative about getting involved. I was raised an MK/PK (Missionary Kid/Preacher’s Kid)… I knew that church had the potential to take lots of my time (While I rationalized that “church” would take my time, I knew in the back of my mind that God was the one that would use me if I let Him.) I remember resisting… I barely had time for my new job, my new wife, my existing friends… I just didn’t have time. But still, at least I dipped my toe in.

Over time, I got more engaged in my Sunday School class, started volunteering with the kids as a VIP, went to Missions Day and helped build a Habitat for Humanity house, … Each time, someone at South Main would invite me to this or ask me if I wanted to help with that… The deeper I got, the more I enjoyed it, the more I reconnected with God… One day, I was asked to substitute teach our Sunday School class. I remember distinctly my “Jonah” moment, where I admitted that I’d been trying to sidestep God’s nudge to teach. I had some great excuses too. But when I finally said yes, I discovered that teaching was something I really enjoyed. In fact, it is now one of the things I enjoy most in my life (and, surprise, during Discovery Weekend, I found out that it is in fact one of my spiritual gifts).

I have so many South Mainers to thank for their invitations, nudging, encouragement, and support… I’m not sure I would have come this far without them. Needless to say, God has continued to work in my life and the life of my family, and every time I wade in one more step deeper into the life of South Main, I find a deeper, fuller understanding of God and the richness of the family of God.

Looking back, I wonder what it would have been like if I had just “jumped in”… and I see people who do that and thrive. For me it was a longer journey. Either way, I’m all in now and the water is cool and refreshing and I feel replenished. If you are not all in yet, come on in… the water is great.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing Our Stories…. Bobbye Lott

April 22, 2010

By Bobbye Lott, South Main Member

Bobbye Lott is a member of the South Main Outreach Committee and Guest Outreach Team.  She also teaches Sunday School in the Senior Adults department.

I married into the South Main Family–a boy who grew up at South Main. We had been married four years when we moved to Houston, bringing our first child in tow. I grew up in a small town, almost living at the church in my teen years. Then off to Baylor, marriage, teaching, child bearing. My thoughts about South Main were–this big beautiful church with all these smart people, there won’t be a place for me to serve. Wrong!!

My first “ministry” was in Vacation Bible School, as a helper with the three year olds, serving snacks, bathing rubber dolls, and taking kids to potty. Before I could turn around, I found myself teaching fourth grade girls in Sunday School–then time out to have a baby.

A dynamic young woman came on staff as our Children’s Director. (Women were not called ministers then.) She invited my husband and me to teach kindergarten. She saw potential and urged me into leadership positions I had no idea how to do. Most of the time, my answer was, “I don’t know how to do that.”

Throughout almost fifty years as a South Mainer, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to serve in ways I could never have imagined, and always, there was someone to encourage and guide me. Only last year, I learned that my mother-in-law was the one who suggested that I be asked to teach. We just never know the impact our words may have on someone’s life.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing Our Stories….. Hart Brupbacher

April 21, 2010

By Hart Brupbacher, South Main Member

Hart and Linda Brupbacher are both members of the Discipleship Committe.  Hart sings in the Sanctuary Choir and Linda teaches Sunday School to our Young and Median Adults.

During the year we spent looking for a church home, Linda and I went to many different churches. We visited South Main for the first time in August. The mountain of shoes that greeted us as we entered the Welcome Center told us that South Main is a church focused on missions and helping people in need. We proceeded to the church service where the special offering taken to help provide water for Houston’s homeless further reinforced South Main’s mission emphasis.  The missions emphasis was appealing to us.

Equally appealing was the warmth and friendliness we encountered as well as the theology we heard expressed and saw lived out. We visited Sunday School, and one of the first Sundays we were invited to go to lunch after church. We found the worship service to be very meaningful and Steve’s sermons to be thoughtful, challenging, and inspirational. Steve spent time with us discussing our beliefs and helping us figure out that South Main would be a good fit for us. After only a few weeks, we joined–and our lives have really changed in a positive way because of that decision.

We are constantly amazed by the way the family of South Main has embraced us. The Christian fellowship and friendships that we have encountered in our Sunday School Community, South Main at Home groups and choir have been a wonderful experience. Through some potential health problems we found out that we do not have to travel the road alone – we have a family at South Main who will be with us and support us in the journey. We also have friend to celebrate with us.

At South Main we’ve found friendship, service opportunities, meaningful growth and worship opportunities and much needed support—all of which make us really glad we are a part of this family of faith and totally comfortable recommending South Main to others.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing Our Stories….Kathy Bernal

April 18, 2010

By Kathy Bernal, South Main Member

Kathy Bernal is a South Main Sanctuary Choir member, sings in the Agape Women’s Ensemble, and is a Community Leader in the Fellowship of Young Families.

My life at age 23 was a mess. I was working long, stressful hours as a first year attorney in Houston where I had no family. My father was dying of cancer and my one-year marriage to my college sweetheart took a heartbreaking turn thus ending in a divorce. I felt broken-heartened and ashamed. One of my friends and co-workers could see my despair and graciously invited me to attend his church, South Main.

I didn’t grow up in a church. I was 23 and divorced. I was sad. Could South Main accept all of these imperfections? The answer is what kept me coming back week after week for the next fourteen years. South Main is filled with imperfect yet loving and accepting people, all here for the same purpose: to support each other and to celebrate the love of God.

If you would like to know the difference that one invitation can make and the power that it can have, let me show you. Fourteen years later, as I look out at the congregation from the choir loft, I see my wonderful husband of eight years who, although raised Catholic, now serves beside me as a Community Leader of a Sunday School class that we helped form. I see my two beautiful, teenage stepdaughters who were welcomed by this church when they were only five years old and who would rather be hanging out at church or the Youth Center than anywhere else. They, like our precious 6 year-old daughter and spirited two- year old son will know what it is like to grow up in a loving church. I see our very best friends who continually sustain us through life. I see the people that help raise our children and support us as we attempt to live our lives and grow closer to God. Finally, I see the person who made that first invitation to me. How can I possibly thank him enough for such an incredible gift? The only way I can is by telling others what Jim Barkley did for me and my family with that one invitation and hope that others share that same power and love.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010

Sharing our Stories…Minnie Walker

April 18, 2010

By Minnie Walker, South Main Member

Minnie Walker is a proud member of the Reba Class in the Senior Adult Sunday School Department who is actively involved in many Missions activities at South Main.

I moved to Houston in 2005 to be near my sons and prayed I would find a church with loving members where I could dedicate my services to the Lord.

Guess what? God answered my prayer through a friend, Jean Crump, a former member of South Main Baptist Church, who had moved to San Antonio. She told me I HAD to go to her church in Houston for” it was the best, no other like it”. However, I really did not want to move my membership until I visited other churches.

Guess what? Here came an email from Jean with directions almost to the front door of South Main! So I attended church services, Sunday School and kept getting phone calls inviting me to join the Reba Class.

Guess what? I moved my membership to South Main and joined the Reba Class. Dodie Beazley has been a great influence in my life, and has involved me in SMILE, Shoes for Orphans and Bible Study. Cliff Brunson invited me to make sandwiches for the homeless, and I have been involved in this program for over two years.

So you see the reason I chose South Main Baptist for my church are the warm, friendly, caring Christian people who welcomed me and influenced my life. I have been blessed and can truly say this is the right church for me.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010