Central Pike Church of Christ recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. On Sunday, Oct. 1, the church held a special program and open house after the regular worship service and lunch.
Normally, the church averages 100 people during service, but the anniversary brought 280 members, former members and nearby residents came to worship. Those in attendance enjoyed fellowship, ate a barbeque lunch by a former member’s mother and visited a room that housed artifacts from the church’s history.
“When you have a special day, and everybody shows up, it’s encouraging,” said Jerry Sawyer, the minister of Central Pike Church of Christ.
The church started in 1942 and held its first worship service in a tent. Soon after, a house was rented and a small group of a few families began to meet in October of that year. By November, the church moved to a 20 x 30 ft. small building. Another section was added to the building in 1949 when more room was needed for the growing church. After a few more additions, Central Pike created a new structure in 1969 – the current location of the church.
Jerry Sawyer has been the preacher at Central Pike for three years and has been trying to rebuild and grow the congregation through community outreach. However, it’s been difficult because of the multitude of churches in the same area.
“It’s competitive, but we’re in a period of rebuilding and trying to reach out and serve,” said Sawyer.
One way the church is reaching out is through a house to house newsletter to get Central Pike’s name out to surrounding neighborhoods. They also have a neighborhood ministry directed toward children in the surrounding area who might be having a tough life at home.
There is a small youth group that has devotionals once a month and goes on outings. Sawyer said the youth group even competed in a Bible Bowl a month ago, where they study and are tested over a book of the Bible, and they did very well.
Central Pike also has international ministries in Africa and Honduras. With “Partners for Africa,” the church collects money for a missionary to continue building up the community he serves overseas. Sawyer said the man has already built a large school, but the church continues to help provide meals for the families surrounding the school. Fifty cents provides one meal, so a dollar can feed a child two meals.
The church has been traveling to Honduras for years to do humanitarian work distributing food or building houses. Sawyer, who has been going for ten or twelve years, says the work is fun, but tiring.
Sawyer said the church is just trying to reach out and let people know they are there to lift up Jesus. This is important to him because if we don’t change what is happening in our culture, we will have bigger things to worry about than another country threatening harm.
“When somebody does what happened in Las Vegas , there’s a problem,” said Sawyer. “There’s a disconnect between good. We’re not even talking about Christianity, but we’re talking about good in general in the culture has shifted.”
Because it seems as if all that is reported in the news is bad, he said, we start to believe the majority of people are bad. Sawyer, though, does not believe that is true. He said the only way to change that thinking is to connect people with the only hope: Jesus.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, is connect those kids and a lot of them we won’t reach over time,” Sawyer said, “but if you can reach a small group, it changes.”
Although he knows humans are not perfect, he says our basic desire is to do good. It is what makes the world a different place.
“That’s what it’s all about, people helping people,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to do.”
This is why Sawyer is reaching out to the areas around the church, who may be struggling with seeing the good in life.
Sawyer understands the Christian life is not the easiest life, but he says it’s the best life to live.
“We’ve got to interact with the world, or we won’t ever reach it,” he said.
He also realizes the gap between millennials and the congregation, so the church is working on outreach specific toward the generation and holding their attention.
“I’ve got four kids and all four kids are millennials, and I realize it’s not necessarily a bad thinking, it’s just a different thinking,” he said. “What I do love about [millennials] is most love to serve, so more than likely that would be an avenue that we’re going to be looking to do.”
Central Pike is a friendly place, filled with people who love the Lord, said Sawyer. That is what he wants the neighborhood, or even people outside the area looking for a place to worship, to know. If you come as a guest, you’ll leave as a friend.