The amazing story actually begins a very long time ago; 1912 to be exact.
If you look closely at the picture wall in the local convenience store, you’ll see a picture of Sand Springs Baptist Church. Look a bit longer and you will see the 1912 Martin’s Mill Baptist Church. Both buildings are gone, but their legacies remain.
Apparently sometime during the year of 1911, the members of Sand Springs Baptist Church came to irreconcilable differences and the all-too-familiar church split became inevitable. Sand Springs #2 was formed. In 1912 they changed their name to match the community name. The Martin’s Mill Baptist Church was born.
Unfortunately, it was also born from a spirit of division. A spirit that would take root in the community for decades to come and more splits would be in her future.
Then, in 2013 a new church plant began meeting at the school adjacent to the Martin’s Mill Baptist Church. They were blessed and began to grow, eventually building a new worship center across the street. During that time the elders and members of MMBC began to pray and ask the Lord about unifying with the new body.
It wasn’t an easy decision and it took a couple of years of praying, meeting, and planning, but it happened. God did it! We voted, both congregations yielded to the leading of the Holy Spirit and watched as He tore down a generational spiritual stronghold of division and contention.
John 17:20-21 says
I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.
We have long believed in the power and majesty of God’s Word. His promises and declarations are real and binding. If Jesus thought it worthwhile to pray for unity, and that unity would, in turn, testify He was sent from God, then we had to give it a shot.
This coming Sunday, the first Sunday in October 2019, marks the second anniversary of our first official worship service as one congregation. It’s been two years.
I’d love to say it has all been smooth, but that wouldn’t be true. I’ve had my share of emotion and grief from feeling like I had lost the place from which I was drawing my identity. In response, the elders have graciously and patiently served and done all they could to ensure every person felt right at home and part of the family. They have succeeded.
I also am blessed to count my new pastor among my closest and dearest friends, a true “Battle Buddy” in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. It is no easy task to lead a congregation with other pastors in the pews. I think we have four! Poor guy. But he navigates that space like a true servant of God.
Today we worship as one family, one church, one sacred testimony that Jesus was sent from God and the spirit of division once rooted deep in the heartbeat of our community must find some other ground. This ground has been redeemed!
I’m reminded today that our identity doesn’t lie in the place we serve, but in the declarations our Father has made over us. We are not merely pastors, elders, members, or participants in this church or that church … NO, we are sons and daughters of the Most High, joint-heirs with Christ, judges of angels. We are a Kingdom of Priests devoted to lifting up the powerful, matchless and wonderful name of Jesus … together … as ONE!
I look forward this Sunday to reveling in the redemptive, unifying power of the Holy Spirit.