By Jim & Tracy Hill
I grew up in Healdton, Oklahoma. It is a small town where everyone knows each other. We went to the Baptist church where I attended Sunday school and VBS. My family attended Sunday mornings and nights, as well as classes on Wednesday nights. One of my biggest memories of church was the Sunday my brother and I were baptized. The pastor could break out in prayer at any time and he chose to break into prayer when he immersed me. The prayer was almost longer than I could hold my breath. I thought I was going to meet Jesus that night. During this era, attending church was the norm. It was the center of most social gatherings and where friendships were formed.
From my earliest memories, I have gone to church and have been connected to a church family. My dad was in the Air Force, so each state we moved to I remember our church friends became like family. When we lived in Indiana, I remember my dad carrying me to school in the snow and laying my head in my mom’s lap during Sunday night service as she fanned me with a Jesus fan. Yes, a Jesus fan…a cut-out picture of Jesus with a tongue depressor glued in between the pictures. As the pastor talked about the Holy Spirit, I would look up at the lights and squint my eyes imagining Casper the ghost darting all over the ceiling of the sanctuary. On my seventh birthday, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and to come into my heart.
The second semester of my seventh-grade year, my dad was sent overseas for a year. We made the move to Healdton, Oklahoma, to be close to an aunt and uncle. The location placed us at an equal distance between both sets of grandparents. We missed daddy terribly and became involved in Sunday school and youth group. It was a wonderful place to make friends and become connected.
When my dad came back, we moved in December during the middle of my eighth-grade year, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I loved it from the moment my feet hit the cold sand! We attended Surfside Methodist Church. Pastor George Baker and his wife Mary were a precious couple and close to our family. I was baptized and went through confirmation at this church. A couple of years ago Jim and I went on a vacation to Myrtle Beach and attended church service at Surfside Methodist Church. The original building was converted to Sunday school classes and the church is now huge!
I have many wonderful memories of our Sunday school class, singing in the choir, Methodist Youth Fellowship and helping with VBS. Some of the girls I attended Sunday school and church with are still very close friends. The women and men in the church were like parents and grandparents to my brother and me and we have remained close to many of them. This is a glimpse of my life and as you can see church has played a huge part.
Although our backgrounds growing up were very different, our parents raised us both in church and it was common ground for us to build our relationship. Before marriage, we made the decision to commit our marriage to Christ. We knew attending church was vital to growing our faith individually and as a couple. We attended and taught Sunday school, attended Bible studies and helped with various special occasions. Most of our close friends are from the churches we attended. We raised our children with our church families and these families have been our family away from home.
Being connected to a church family is vital for us. Having strong ties in our churches growing up and while raising our children has blessed us. Overseeing VBS, teaching Sunday school, belonging to a Sunday morning class, spending time socially with our church friends was a true blessing in our lives and still is today. It enabled us to grow not only in the structure of the church but outside the walls of the church, too.
We have been members of Acts 2 for many years, attending the Disciple Bible studies and helping where we can. When Andy asked us to support and become involved with One Church at Acts 2, we saw this as an opportunity to reach people who need a place to belong and learn about Jesus. It is exciting to see the growth and development of One Church.
Whether single, married, married with children, empty nesters or if you have never belonged to a church, we all need to have a place where we can grow spiritually and have that sense of belonging.
Over the next couple of months, we will be attending and helping with the Alpha class for the first time. Alpha is an 11-week class starting on Jan. 24. The class will take place on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. The Alpha class will be a relaxed time to explore the Christian faith and learn as we share and grow together. We are looking forward to this semester of Alpha. Everyone is welcome! Come join us and Pastor Andy as we begin this adventure together.
Jim and Tracy Hill
For more information on Alpha, contact Melissa Nelms.