By Jennifer HarrisWord&Way News Writer
When Thomas Musick and his friends began gathering for a Bible study, they couldn’t have imagined what Fee Fee Creek Baptist Church would become.
Two hundred years later, the church – now called Fee Fee Baptist Church – is still meeting, although they have outgrown homes and five building projects.
“Fee Fee Baptist Church is the oldest continuously operating protestant church west of the Mississippi,” pastor Randy Fullerton said during the Oct. 7 worship service commemorating the anniversary. “But that is not something that we should depend on for our success in the future. God has done a lot of work through our church and He continues to want to do that.”
Oct. 6-7 served as the final celebration weekend in a series of four quarterly events.
The theme of the weekend, “Living Stones,” comes from 1 Peter 2:5: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (NIV).
Saturday afternoon, individuals gathered at the church for an outdoor “Men’s Gathering,” which included contests for target shooting and fishing (getting the hook in a bucket), opportunities to whittle walking sticks, listen to dulcimer music, play games and eat plenty of food.
Downstairs, the church held a “Women’s Tea,” where tea, punch and hundreds of homemade cookies were available.
The church parlor featured displays of the church’s history and official proclamations of the event.
During a Saturday evening banquet, retired missionary Keith Parks challenged Fee Fee Baptist Church to ask “Whose priest are you?”
Parks recalled a pastor friend in China. During the Cultural Revolution from 1966 – 1979, all public worship was forbidden. Churches were forced to meet secretly, sometimes whispering hymns so they would not be heard.
Parks asked about the first song they sang when they were allowed to meet openly. The pastor responded that they sang the Doxology, but no one was able to finish because of emotions.
Parks asked the pastor what got him through all those years. The pastor responded that the verse that gave him encouragement was from Matthew 2 – that God could raise up sons of Abraham from these stones.
The pastor thought that all of the Christians in China might be destroyed. God responded that His work will go on.
“Whose priest are you?” Parks asked. “Nothing is more important than how you process this question. For whom are you a priestly nation?”
“So many churches and Christians have lost understanding of what it means to follow Christ,” he said. “The problem is that our culture supports Christians, and that has blurred the lines between culture and Christianity.”
He urged Fee Fee Baptist Church to evaluate where they are in regards to their original purpose.
“The only force in the world that can cause a Christian group to lose its power is the Christians themselves,” Parks said. “The only way it can fail is when members refuse to let God’s spirit work through them.”
“Fee Fee will grow and expand as long as its members allow God to work through them. When you reach the point where your greatest accomplishment is behind you, you’re dead.”
Jerry Cain, president of Judson University, addressed the church during Sunday morning worship.
Running through an aural “slide show” of the church history, Cain compared Fee Fee with Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.
In Romans 15:22-33, Paul reveals his desire to visit Rome, and his need to stop by Jerusalem first.
After Paul’s conversion to Christianity, Jerusalem was a dangerous place. He didn’t know how his former colleagues would respond – they may even kill him, Cain said.
So Paul asks the church to join him in prayer.
“Are you facing your Jerusalem?” Cain asked. “We all face our Jerusalems.”
He continued reading Romans 13, where 24 names are mentioned. “When Paul faces difficult tasks, what’s his therapy?” Cain asked. “He starts going through a slide show of memories. The best way to face a world he did not understand was to review those great people who held significance in his life.”
The members of Fee Fee need to know their history, he said. “Every child that walks in here needs to hear stories, so that they leave as Christians – Baptist Christian who know their heritage, their history.”
Just as the 100-year anniversary ended, this weekend concluded with a march to the Fee Fee Cemetary, home of the original building, and the singing of songs.