New steeple points to church’s mission
At 9 a.m. Wednesday morning Montgomery Baptist Church grew a little taller with the addition of a new steeple that is the “cherry on top” of renovations the church has been going through since late April and early May. The church now stands at approximately 73 feet from ground to the tip of the steeple’s cross. The new steeple sports a cross that joins a larger cross that is posted directly below it on a wall that is backlit at night and can be very easily seen from the road.
“It was like putting the crown on the queen,” Pastor Larry Russell said, who took over pastoral duties in May of this year. “We’re happy to finally get the steeple up because we have a lot of stuff to do.”
A native of Lincoln County, Russell grew up in east Brookhaven and after attending Co-Lin followed by graduation from Mississippi State University, he feels that he has finally returned home.
“My wife and I owned three houses in Jackson, and it just never felt like home. But here, it feels like home,” Russell said. Russell’s feelings of being at home in this church and city seem explained by how the church and its congregation exist and treat each other.
“It’s a friendly atmosphere, and always very loving. A lot are born and raised here, and it feels like a big family,” life-long member, Joann Buie said. “We have a lot of families in the church, and everyone helps out if anyone needs anything.”
With a congregation of over 300, the Montgomery Baptist Church has many life-long members, both young and old. Present at the mounting of the steeple were two young members, Connor Price and Trent Moak; Moak is involved with the church through music and preaching.
Russell is very proud of the work the youth are doing at the church and the amount of programs the church has to get everyone of all ages involved. He shares stories of two young men who have served and will serve on mission trips in the Philippines and Mexico. He also commends the work of some high school female members who, beside their duties as players on the Bogue Chitto softball team, contribute a lot to the church as well.
Just some of the programs offered for the youth include the Children’s Christmas Cantata, bible drills and an annual fall festival that brings in over 100 kids.
“It’s real sparse out here, ” Russell said, speaking on the placement of the church in a more rural part of town, “so, its amazing that we get that many young people here for our festival.”
For some of the older members of the church, Russell said the church’s youth director is planning to take a group of young people to Gatlinburg for New Years Eve for a host of Christian concerts and speakers.
“There’s always something going on.” Russell said.
The church doesn’t forget about its senior members. Joann Holmes, a member since 1961 said the group of approximately 40 senior adult members cook or go out to eat every week.
With so much going on at Montgomery Baptist Church, Pastor Russell hopes and believes that the new steeple will bring on even more attention and involvement.
“It’ll remind people that there are things happening here,” Russell said. In explaining his optimism for the new steeple Russell shares a story he heard from an old friend in which he compares the intended effect of the steeple to the relationship between a seeing-eye dog and it’s visually impaired owner.
“A seeing-eye dog must see from a person’s perspective or else it’ll walk the person into a limb. So the dog is trained to look up to help solve problems for its owner. Hopefully people will see this cross atop this big steeple, and it will train then to look up towards the one who can help solve their problems,” Pastor Russell said.
The installation of the new steeple comes just in time for the church’s Homecoming and Dedication service scheduled for Oct. 26 at 10:30 a.m. They are inviting all of the church’s former and current members, staff and pastors to come enjoy the excitement of the congregation in the new sanctuary that seats over 240 people.
Not long after the Homecoming service the church will be hosting its annual fall festival on Nov. 1, which will include activities for the whole family. Another event the church is excited to share with the public is its involvement with Operation Shoe Box, through Samaritan’s Purse, that sends materials to children and their families around the world during the Christmas season.
Since 1893, Montgomery Baptist Church has been in operation, and with the finalizing of renovations marked by the installment of the new steeple, Pastor Russell and the congregation hopes to continue doing their part in pointing people towards Jesus.