MOBILE, Ala. – “Statistics show that 100 churches across our country close their doors every week, and we don’t think God is ready for us to be one of those 100,” said Reid Guy, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Chickasaw.
It takes prayer, hard work and many hands to revitalize a 30-member church that once attracted 1,200 worshippers. Some of those hands were over 120 University of Mobile students in Alabama School of the Arts who stepped in to help make the impossible possible during their annual Project Serve event on Oct. 25. Students helped accomplish major projects that would have taken years for First Baptist Church of Chickasaw to complete on their own.
“This was a megachurch before we really had the term megachurch, and it has the facilities to accommodate all that came with a large church. First Baptist of Chickasaw was a hub for our community,” said Guy.
Due to a handful of struggles, membership had fallen to about 30 and they found themselves close to shutting the doors – but just at the right time, Reid Guy, who is the husband of UM assistant professor of music Lori Guy, stepped in.
“I began interviewing for the role as senior pastor in May and obviously saw the struggle, but also found that this church was not ready to close its doors,” said Guy.
Since he began in September, they are now averaging around 50 people on a Sunday, have new members joining, and launched a new children’s ministry.
But there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the church building, and that is where University of Mobile students stepped in with willing and helpful hands.
Lonnie Burnett, UM president, said the university emphasizes student involvement in local churches, and this Project Serve event symbolizes that partnership.
“Local churches are our lifeblood – they send us students, they send us donations, and this is our chance to give back,” said Burnett.
Because of financial struggles and size, First Baptist of Chickasaw has not met in the sanctuary of their building in over a year – and University of Mobile students helped paint, clean and do carpentry work to help First Baptist of Chickasaw get ready to move back into the sanctuary on Oct. 27.
Morgan Brasell, a junior worship leadership major, said, “Being able to serve First Baptist Church of Chickasaw has been a pleasure. It’s amazing what we can do the church when we all come together as a team.”
“It’s pretty cool that UM gets to go out and serve. And it means even more, because my grandparents got married in this church. I’m excited to help with the church growing,” said Abigail Breland, a sophomore nursing major.
Abigail was one of the students that helped clean over 100 pews. Students helped paint First Baptist Church of Chickasaw’s education building, children’s building, fellowship hall and parts of the sanctuary. Students also helped clean the church’s gym.
“The work they did was invaluable to our church. We are better positioned to reach our community for the gospel because of the work they did,” said Guy
“I am passionate about the local church and First Baptist Church of Chickasaw. Seeing over 120 of our students working so hard was incredible,” said Alison Wilks, UM staff member and church member at FBCC.
“I honestly believe that, indirectly through the work done by these students, people will come to know Christ and/or grow in their relationship with Him,” said Guy. “We have several UM students and faculty that attend our church. They are special to us.”
To celebrate moving back into the sanctuary on Oct. 27, UM ensemble, Sofree, performed at First Baptist Church of Chickasaw’s morning service and RamCorps played in the evening. More than 80 people attended the Sunday service that included the first baptism in over two years.
“This partnership with the University of Mobile is God-honoring and one we are so grateful for,” said Guy.
About the University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.
For more information about the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.