When describing my experience as a part of a community of faith, the church, I had to first recognize what a faith community truly was. My definition of a faith community is a group of people, regardless of race or creed, joined together by a common focus, goal, or idea. Keeping this in mind, I believe that my church, Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist, exceeds all expectations of what a faith community should be.
The church I attend has a rich heritage. Pleasant Hill was first built on Tallassee Plantation, about ten miles outside of Albany. This is also were my grandparents lived. They even helped build the church. The reason Pleasant Hill was built there was because it was a central location for all of the blacks on the plantation to come and share what they believed and understood to be the word of God. They met every Sunday for Sunday school, but only heard a sermon from the preacher on the first Sunday of each month. This was because the preacher had to travel from Albany to the plantation. Pleasant Hill is what most people call a “family church”, because everyone on the plantation was related in some way or another.
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The church was made of all wood, from the floor to the ceiling. It was somewhat of a shack, but it was their place of worship. In the church, deacons raised old spiritual hymns that stirred the soul. They weren’t accompanied by the drums or the piano, but by the pounding of heels on the wooden floor. As families grew on the plantation, the church grew as well. This growth forced Pleasant Hill to move to the city, even though the old church still stands and is being used to this day.
I have been a member of Pleasant Hill for only twelve years, but during these years, I have seen a continuous growth in membership and in people’s faith also. This is because of the strong, family oriented atmosphere that my church displays. We make everyone feel like they are someone special. We even have a special saying for our visitors, “Come, come, and come again; and when you get tired of visiting us, join us.” That same saying gave me the courage to join the church. The church has not changed very much from the stories that have been handed down from generations before. Though we have more contemporary gospel songs for the choir to sing and no more wooden floors, we have stayed close and we still have our deacons lead devotion with those old spiritual hymns.
Though we have kept close-knit, there are still so many issues that face our church. The main issue is to help people realize that they truly need a relationship with God, and without this relationship their life would have no stability. We want to share the love that God has given to us so that others will make God first in their life. This, in turn, will enable them to feel the same love that we have.
To resolve this troubling issue, we have formed an evangelism team. They are called the S.W.A.T. team, Saints with a Testimony. The S.W.A.T. team goes out in the community every Wednesday and tells people about the goodness of God. Their mission is to bring souls to salvation, and hopefully, by their evangelistic tactics, their goal will be achieved.
With this ministry, we can reach and teach people about a higher power. We can show them that we are not living this life alone; God is always there to guide and protect us. We can also show them that in him there is no failure. If we start reaching people in the community, we can then bond all other communities together and truly be “one nation under God”. We can finally live up to the quote, “In God We Trust,” and become a more unified nation.
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