With a welcome sign at each end, the City of Columbia has formally dedicated Decker Boulevard, a two-mile stretch of highway, as an international corridor, applauding the Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, African, and Mexican business cultures, as well as others, making up the thriving district near Fort Jackson and Columbia Mall.
Now, four Columbia Metro Baptist Association churches are cooperating with one another for Kingdom growth in the Decker Boulevard and Percival Road Corridor Collaboration. Woodfield Park Baptist Church, First Baptist Hispanic Church (Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana), North Columbia Baptist Church, and Grace Fellowship Church of Columbia came together during November’s One Day community impact event as part of the South Carolina Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Columbia. The One Day experience, sending convention messengers into Columbia to serve alongside churches, replaced the annual meeting’s traditional Tuesday afternoon session of the two-day meeting.
It was suggested and led by SC Baptist president, Keith Shorter, pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, SC. Staff of the state convention coordinated the experience. George Bullard, Director of Columbia Metro, expressed pleasure with this opportunity to involve 16 churches and ministry organizations from the association in this experience. “It was also great to see four of the churches come together in a collaborative manner that will live on beyond One Day.”
“It happened at a summer planning meeting for One Day, and Reggie Byrden, pastor of Grace Fellowship, was there, too,” said Jeff Phillips, pastor at Woodfield Park. “Our churches are less than three miles apart. We heard these great ideas for mission projects as part of the state convention meeting. We both looked at each and said, ‘You want to cooperate on this?’ Then, through the Columbia Metro Association, we were able to connect with North Columbia and First Hispanic. We were all looking for opportunities to reach our community here in the Decker and
Percival Road area, and just decided to go about it together.”
The four churches began meeting together in August, determining how they would cooperatively serve the community through One Day.
Cathy Locklear, Columbia Metro’s community impact ministry mobilizer, said, “It’s exciting to see these smaller membership churches working together. They decided to join together around a common purpose – Kingdom growth over their own respective church growth. First Hispanic, which already has a medical clinic, offered a community block party for those waiting to be seen in the clinic. Members and leaders from Woodfield Park, North Columbia, and Grace Fellowship went door-to-door through an apartment complex. Some from North Columbia, with help from the other churches, also went into a local neighborhood, meeting with residents.”
Reginald Byrden, of Grace Fellowship, said, “I’ve been a pastor for 24 years with the past four truly focused on Kingdom growth. Through this work together, we’ve not focused on ‘your church’ or ‘my church’ but on the Kingdom. God will take care of His church.”
Lindsey Lyerly, who has been the pastor at North Columbia since June, said, “One Day was a blessing to our church because we are strategically planted in a neighborhood. As a new pastor, I was finally able to go, with the help of others, and knock on about 130 doors in our neighborhood. We didn’t see everyone, but we were able to hand out literature about our church and have conversations.”
“The cooperative spirit was fantastic,” he said. “We want people to know Jesus, and we don’t care which church they attend. We want people to hear the gospel, and we want them to know that someone loves them.”
“We had three people who professed Christ,” Jeff Phillips, of Woodfield Park, said. “There was at least one rededication and a lot of prayer requests. Our people were able to see the needs of this community, and we have been working on follow-up with some very positive reaction. We hope this is just the beginning. Our plans are to get back together in January and look at some projects to support teachers within local schools.”
Cathy Locklear, from the association, said, “These churches have called on other, larger churches to guide them. Missions leaders from First Baptist Columbia and from Shandon Baptist Church have met with them and encouraged them.”
“Woodfield Park is a smaller membership church with all the struggles that come with that,” Jeff said. “The available workers are just a few. So, missions partnerships like this one through One Day help our church reach this community in ways we could not do all by ourselves. That’s been inspiring to our people.”
“This is just a beginning,” said George Bullard. “We hope to build on the ministry of these four churches, and the 12 other churches and ministries involved in One Day, to launch and even broader and deeper community impact emphasis among the churches of our association. We anticipate with excitement what God will do next to impact the Columbia Metro fellowship area for Christ.”