Monday, October 28, 2013

There's a Place for Us

On our best days small churches feel strong and mighty.  We celebrate and build on our strengths and move forward knowing and sharing the love of Jesus.  On our not best days, however we can feel discouraged. Without the funding and programs of larger sister churches, smaller churches can feel as if we are somehow less than.  Is there a place for us?

Yesterday Scottsville Baptist had the privilege of hosting the Kelly and Cates bell ringers, a group of adults with special needs who lead worship through their gift of music.  This group is from Fredericksburg Baptist, a wonderful church with a history of missions and generosity. Tommy, their director, conducts music by using color-coded cards.  By watching the colors change these friends are able to joyfully ring bells to beloved hymns and other songs.

Following one of the hymns, Tommy shared the beginnings of their ministry.  A woman named Margaret Ingram invited her neighbor to church.  The neighbor's daughter had special needs.  The neighbor asked "Is there a place for my daughter?"

Fredericksburg Baptist got to work and started a "Special Friends" class for persons with disabilities.  The ministry grew and today Fredericksburg Baptist has two residential homes for adults with special needs.  In addition to music ministry, many of these folks live at the Kelly or Cates Home near the church.  All that to say: The ministry of the Kelly and Cates bell ringers is possible because of Fredericksburg Baptist Church and Margaret Ingram.  Thanks Margaret for inviting your neighbor to church.

A happy twist to Tommy's story is Margaret grew up at...Scottsville Baptist Church!

On our not best days small churches can fall prey to comparison.  That church has x.  We only have y.  On our best days however, we celebrate our strengths.  We rejoice in the privilege of raising young women like Margaret, who invited her neighbor to church.  Today a ministry to adults with special needs thrives.  We rejoice in the privilege of raising young women like Lottie Moon, who followed Jesus to China for the sake of the gospel.

This is not to toot the horn of Scottsville Baptist Church.  We have growing edges just like everyone else!  This is not a "Look how great we are" post.  It is, however a reminder that God works in small spaces and places.  No matter the budget or number of programs, God can still work...and God does work in small churches, friends!  Margaret and Lottie are sisters to celebrate.

During the service a blind gentleman with perfect pitch sang West Side Story's "Somewhere."

There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us

He sang with pure joy.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

I could almost hear Margaret's neighbor asking "Is there a place for my daughter?"  Fredericksburg Baptist Church said "Yes."  Yes, there is a place for persons with special needs.  Peace and quiet and open air waited for Margaret's neighbor at Fredericksburg Baptist Church. Thanks Fredericksburg Baptist.

Likewise, there is a place for small churches.  We may not see "results" tomorrow or even next week, but perhaps we are part of something we cannot begin to imagine.  Be faithful, small and mighty churches. There is a place for you in God's kingdom.


  1. Thanks Dawn. It was a meaningful day for our church.

  2. Replies
    1. William, I think so too. Fredericksburg Baptist is a wonderful church.

  3. Katie, my sister is part of the "Ringers" and I know on an intimate level of Margaret Ingram's "initial invitation." When our mother died (the second parent), she had transitioned to living in an apartment and having a "house" for out of town family to congregate in before and after the service presented a challenge. The rest of us "kids" had moved elsewhere, what to do? We got a special rate at the "Fredericksburg Inn" for the real out of town/state family and I noticed the former restaurant seating at the historic "Route 1 Motor Hotel." I worked with the manager to use that space for a nice luncheon and she was able to get an incredible deal/rate w/ a top notch caterer for a pre-Memorial lunch; which also served as a chance for family to connect prior to the service. The manager? The mother of the child who would attend church IF there was a place for her daughter Kathy. Margaret Ingram's neighbor. The circle of giving, love, connection, and concern continued to pulse with support. I didn't know Margaret grew up in Scottsville. What a wonderful legacy your church helped form and found, not just in Margaret, yet in all families who come, participate, and hear the Good News that Scottsville Bapt is sharing. Out of tiny seeds, great oaks can grow.

    1. Elizabeth, Thank you for sharing. What a testimony to Margaret Ingram and Fredericksburg Baptist. You are right: The circle of giving, love, connection, and concern pulse[s] with support. Thanks for your encouragement to our church too.