Baptists opening their doors to community

Above: The new Morinville Baptist Church recently reopened after being rebuilt. A 2012 fire completely destroyed the original.

Pastor Bill Wicks at his pulpit.

by Stephen Dafoe

While the doors of Morinville Baptist Church will be open to the community Christmas Eve as they celebrate the birth of their Saviour, the congregation and pastor are looking to another opportunity to open their doors early in the new year. The Church is having an open house weekend January 7 and 8.

Morinville Baptist Church, located at 431 Grandin Drive, was destroyed by a late night fire in September of 2012. After four years of planning and rebuilding, the church reopened recently, and the congregation is taking the opportunity to share their blessing with the community early next month.

“I think everyone is pleased, excited, relieved – all of those words would be part of it,” Morinville Baptist Pastor Bill Wicks said of reopening the church recently. “[We’re] thankful, definitely, that we were able to put together the building given that we had limited resources in that the insurance company didn’t cover the entire amount. We knew that, as when we started out, we were adding a little bit of space.”

That space (about 400 square feet more) includes the auditorium where church services are held, an inviting gathering place immediately outside, a full basement for classes and gatherings, and a large kitchen to prepare for those events. The original church had an exterior staircase to the building. That has been moved inside a welcoming vestibule area in the new design.

The church is eager to show their new building, and Pastor Wicks said all are welcome to attend all of the weekend events Jan. 7 and 8.

“We want everyone from the community to come in and see what we have, and make them realize they are welcome to attend and participate,” Pastor Wicks said, adding the free Saturday community breakfast and tours will be the open house portion of the weekend.

That activity runs from 8 a.m. until noon with building tours running until 4:30 p.m.

“It’s a free breakfast [and you can] take the time to look through,” Wicks said, adding the church will have some handouts for people as a welcome. “We’re hoping some of them will return.”

Wicks said Sunday, Jan. 8 would start with Sunday School at 10 a.m., followed by their regular church service at 11 a.m. Again, Wicks said all are welcome.

“We’ll have a regular service but probably just a celebrative type service where we give thanks to the Lord for enabling us to get where we’ve got,” he said. “In the afternoon, we’re going to have a potluck, and then a variety of gospel music in the evening.”

The evening of gospel performers takes place at the church at 6 p.m. Although arrangments are still being made for some of the performers, Wicks said there would be a mix of vocalists and instrumentalists, including the Morinville Minstrels, a gospel quartette, and a harpist to name a few. He is also hoping to secure a bluegrass gospel group.

Wicks said he and his congregation are hoping Morinville and area residents will come and learn about the church and the Baptist faith.

“Baptists would be a group that believes a person has to have a personal relationship with the Lord, Jesus Christ, and acknowledge Him as their Saviour and Lord,” Wicks said, adding there are several things Baptists are distinguished by, some they share in common with other denominations. “One of them is what we would call a converted membership. So a person must have a profession of faith and be baptized as a believer by immersion. We believe in pictures of what Jesus did for us. He died, and so when we put a person down [into the water], we say that’s a picture of His death. And when we take them out of the water, it’s a picture of Him coming back to life. It’s also a picture of what’s happening in our hearts, too, in that we are dying in our old way of living, and rising in a new life in Him.”

Wicks said his congregation currently sits at 40 to 50 members, but a recent banquet at the church drew approximately 100. Each of the Baptist churches is autonomous – there is no overarching body to govern. Within the church itself, the pastor is not alone in running the church. The Baptist church has an eldership.
“What that means is the pastor is not kind of on top of everything,” Wicks explains. “There are several spiritual men who form part of the eldership and make decisions. We’re congregational in government, too, but the elders lead and the congregation also have a say in the operations. One of the things we believe in as Baptists is the autonomy of the church. There is no hierarchy outside of the regular church. We believe that Christ is the head of the church.”

In addition to the open house and open invite Jan. 7 and 8, Pastor Wicks and his congregation are inviting Morinville and area residents to their Christmas Eve service Dec. 24 at 7 p.m. Morinville Baptist Church is located at 431 Grandin Drive.

Pastor Bill Wicks at his pulpit. The auditorium holds approximately 150 people.

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