Church seeks change, growth in new name

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

When the idea of changing the name of Liberty Baptist Church came up among its members, no one, not even its veteran attendees, objected.

Sunday, then, will be the culmination of the change, as it begins a new era of growth in its new name, Christ First Church. It can still be found at its location off of Romans Road near the corner of U.S. Route 58 and Godwin Boulevard.

“For our people, we’re putting it as, ‘Sometimes you go into a church and you have to start over again by yourself. What if everybody all started over again together at the same time?’” said Pastor Mark Reon.

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To celebrate the changing and its rebirth, the congregation is hosting a special service and ribbon cutting Sunday, followed by a steak lunch that is open and free to anyone in the community. The lunch follows the church’s 10:30 a.m. service. At that time, Reon said, the church will share its vision for the future.

As part of the changes, the church has also renamed its daycare, which has about 100 children in it, to Mighty Oak Christian Academy.

Several reasons led the church leadership to seek a name change, the idea for which came from the church’s deacons. One was the confusion with other area churches and entities with the word Liberty in their names. Another was the church’s desire to incorporate, as well as to leave the past behind and look forward to the future.

Reon expected pushback on the name change, especially from older members, but he got none.

“The oldest members were like, ‘We should have done this a long time ago,’” Reon said. “And the older people in the congregation were excited.”

The church has redone its mission statement and voted in the spring to incorporate and change the name. There are also improvements in the structure of the church, both physical and with staff and volunteers.

Smith showcased the finishing touches on the church on a recent evening, including the new signage, a new sound system, lighting and monitors. The church has also reworked its service and welcome center, hired a youth pastor and put together a greeter team. Painting was also being done in the hallway of the Mighty Oak Christian Academy.

“That’s what we’re hoping the changes will do for us,” church Deacon Charlie Smith said, “is to help us grow and get more people in.”

The church also plans to perform 1,000 hours of community service beginning in January. Reon said Councilman Donald Goldberg has been helping the church line up volunteer opportunities.

“It’s about getting out into the community in a positive manner,” Reon said. “We’re going to be working hand-in-hand with the city on that for 2020.”

Smith said the changes have given the church members a sense of pride about what it sees as positive changes going forward, ones it hopes will lead others into finding their faith in Jesus.

“We’ve got a lot of people who are coming we hope that we can bring to Christ,” Smith said, “and bring them into the church.”