In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, First Baptist Church of Campaign-Rock Island offers plenty of room for social distancing. But pioneers in the revival of that long-dormant church hope and pray for a sanctuary soon filled by the faithful.
The original First Baptist congregation was located at the crossroads in Campaign a few steps from the Post Office. After years of declining membership, the last two families worshipping there decided to move elsewhere and close the building in 2005.
In the same neighborhood, Friendship The Baptist Church was outgrowing its worship center complete with a modern gymnasium attached — and relocated to a new, larger facility facing Highway 70S.
“This is a reopening of a Southern Baptist work in that area,” explained Bro. Jim Ramsey, executive director of the Central Baptist Association, which is leading the effort to establish the congregation. “People who want God to use them in planting a new church, this is where they belong.”
Ramsey serves as one of the start-up preachers for the nascent congregation, which normally has 15-20 worshippers in Sunday morning services. The spacious, comfortable sanctuary can easily accommodate 200 people, he estimated. The goal is to have at least 25 “regulars” by the end of January, with continual growth going throughout 2022.
Newcomers can expect to be involved in the work as soon as they arrive, Ramsey promised. “If you can lead singing, teach a Bible class, work as a youth leader or drive a nail, there’s a job for you.”
For the near future of the church, the Central Baptist Association is seeking a qualified pastor, possibly one who can serve part time in pulpit duties while maintaining a regular job in the community.
As a get-acquainted gesture to any interested persons, the church will observe an open house event next weekend on Saturday, Dec. 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and visitors will have a chance to tour the facilities, including the gymnasium-classroom building which will also function as a fellowship and community service site.