Generations of Worship, of Fellowship, of Faith – Why it Matters to Kathy Bernal

October 29, 2015

15 Generations logoI didn’t grow up at South Main. Sadly, I didn’t grow up in a church at all. I was a Christian that never had, and yet always wanted, a church home. It was a void in my life for many, many years and I think I was too frightened and intimidated to fix it. And so, I continued to be just a church visitor here and there, Easter, Christmas and the occasional youth trip.

When I was in my early 20s, I felt incredibly alone and defeated by the obstacles life had thrown me. I desperately needed my church and my God. Seeing my distress, a co-worker shared with me one of the most amazing gifts I would ever receive. He invited me to visit South Main. I knew it was time to face my fears and fill the void in my life.

South Main immediately opened its loving arms to me through Sunday School, choir, mission trips, and committee work. It is hard to believe that was almost 15 years ago. In those 15 years, God blessed me not only with a church home, but with a loving husband and four children, all of whom are as dedicated to South Main as I am. Being a member of this church family brought the gifts of worship, fellowship, faith, music, friendship, stewardship and grace to me, my husband and our children.

I am always in awe of the families that have been at South Main for generations. But for me, the opportunity to be a first generation South Mainer means that I have the incredible honor of bringing the gifts of fellowship, faith and worship to the future generations of my family. My children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will never have to experience the void and fear I felt because they will have been raised here at South Main. It is a legacy that I am blessed and so very grateful to pass on.

 


Generations of Worship, of Fellowship, of Faith – Why it matters…by Charles & Jane Reynolds

October 27, 2015

15 Generations logo

We became aware of South Main through our daughter, Diana, over a period of time prior to her passing in July of 2011. She had encouraged us to visit South Main many times. At the time, we were not attending a church on a regular basis.

Diana had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in the spring of that same year. During her various stays in 4 different hospitals, members of the South Main family visited us. We were strangers, but not for long. They shared God’s love. Each time that they left, there was a prayer said which encouraged Charlie and me and helped us find peace in the acceptance of what was to come; hope that we were to show our Christian strength with Diana, her brother Carl and sister-in-law Shelly, as well as the other family members. You might say we were a tad bit overwhelmed at this outpouring of the South Main family love. We had not experienced such a display of Christian faith from any previous church relationships. After 3 days and nights under hospice care at Tomball Hospital, Diana’s earthly pain was finally gone. Charlie and I, Carl and Shelly were there to hold her with a memory of God’s love as well as our love.

Besides the beautiful music and message at Diana’s memorial service in the South Main chapel, we were astounded by more of the South Main family in the pews. There were our family members, work associates, friends, but most impressive was the fact that many South Main Church family members filled all the rest of the pews.

It wasn’t long afterwards that we realized what we had been missing in our lives was a church family. In August of 2011 we made our first visit and by September we became church members. Amy Grizzle Kane guided us to the Power and Light Community for Sunday School. What a blessing! We have experienced both learning the Bible and the warmth of loving people in the class.

The messages during the worship services have resounded in our hearts to carry forward God’s love for all people, not just in church but everywhere. The many South Main missions exemplify this theme.

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.”     1 Corinthians 16: 13-14

We look forward to many more years of being a small part of a growing South Main family.


Generations: By Bill and Michelle Cayard

October 22, 2015

15 Generations logoAbout thirty years ago we nervously walked the aisle at South Main Baptist Church. We were students at the University of Houston looking for a church family with whom to worship, serve, and grow. Through the influence of student ministry at the University of Houston we both felt that God was calling us to serve cross culturally in the future. We didn’t know how, where, or even when. We just knew God’s call was upon our hearts.

At South Main we attended Toni Richerson’s college Sunday school class. University graduation and wedding bells soon followed and we joined Larry and Lecia Carroll’s “Nearly and Newly Married” Sunday school group. In both classes we enjoyed good fellowship and Bible study and were challenged to live our lives in ways that honored God.

Years passed and we were encouraged by a university minister to lead youth ministry programs in two smaller churches. Doing so led to study at Southwestern Theological Seminary and we eventually returned home to South Main.

In 2003, we were commissioned by South Main Baptist Church and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to serve in China. Our job would be to go there, study the language, and discover ways we could serve Chinese pastors and churches. What an adventure it has been to see first hand how God is moving among the Chinese people.

Never dreaming it possible, Chinese Christians asked us to help start a new church in the city where we live. We immediately said, “Yes!” and began meeting together for Bible study and prayer. On September 7, 2007 the Chengdu Thanksgiving Church held its first worship service and Sunday school classes with 30 people. God has blessed our fellowship with incredible growth in just eight years. Now with two Sunday services and dozens of Sunday school classes, our body of Christ has grown to more than 500. Last year the Thanksgiving Church started another church in the suburbs of our city where another 150 worship and study each Sunday.

South Main Baptist Church and Steve Wells have been personally involved and supportive each year we have been in China. In addition to leading South Main groups here, Steve has faithfully ministered to us personally by coming to lead retreats for local Chinese pastors. This continues to be a blessing for the pastors here in Sichuan. This week, Steve is leading a retreat for nearly 40 pastors, preachers, and bi-vocational ministers. Together we will enjoy time away in the beautiful mountains of Sichuan.

Thank you South Main Baptist Church for partnering with us through these years. Our work together is making a difference in this land where so few know the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Generations of Worship, of Fellowship, of Faith – Why It Matters…

October 17, 2015

15 Generations logo

By David Corban

For newcomers to South Main, our signature structural distinctive would probably be the sanctuary’s sun-pierced stained glass windows. Within the sanctuary, however, we find an even more beautiful edifice, one built entirely of music. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” the psalmist wrote, and so it is that with voice and piano, strings and brass, woodwinds and handbells, our church weaves a textured musical fabric in every Sunday worship, offering to God through our music what we cannot express solely through the spoken word.

For decades now, the tent-pole of this musical tabernacle has been our pipe organ. Without its muscular strength, our sanctuary would be beautiful to the eye and yet not a voice of its own. With the organ, as Daryl Robinson demonstrated so well for the last dozen years, our sanctuary has had a voice capable of the most sensitive phrasings of our deepest longings.

This magnificent instrument has served our congregation well for many years, and yet concerns about its health have surfaced more and more frequently. Twenty-five years ago this month, Mary and I wanted the organ to play a central role in our wedding. But on the eve of the ceremony, our organist, Dr. Rhonda Furr (sitting in for Charles Lively), determined several ranks of pipes no longer worked. Thanks to her skills and the dehumidifying effects of the sanctuary air conditioners running overnight, full function was restored by the hour of our wedding. The organ’s great pipes helped inspire our guests to sing full-throatedly the hymn of St. Francis:

All creatures of our God and King

Lift up your voice and with us sing,

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

 O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

To this good day, I tear up whenever our organist plays the introit for this hymn in worship.

On another occasion in 2008, following Hurricane Ike, our church was without power, and the organ’s great voice was silenced. On the first Sunday after power was restored, we did not know whether the pipes would remain silent or simply belch unpleasantly. Yet Daryl, with his great gifts (and I’ll bet, with silent prayers), pulled out all the stops, and we experienced another glorious moment of worship. Yet again, I teared up in worship.

The time has now come to ensure that our children and our children’s children will know the beauty of worship in South Main’s grand tradition, and to ensure that when they marry, or when they profess their faith in Christ, or when they are baptized, or when they celebrate the life of a family member who has passed into the life to come, they will not worry about whether the organ will work. Rather, they will focus on one thing alone:

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,

Praise God and on Him cast your care!

 O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!