Rural church grows, builds, maintains 22% in CP giving

by Carl M. White, posted Monday, April 26, 1999 (18 years ago)

PEARL, Miss. (BP)--When Malcolm Pinion first drove around the curve and saw the rural church, he thought to himself, "No way am I coming here.”

But the Lord had something else in mind.

Now in his sixth year as pastor of Briar Hill Baptist Church in Rankin County, Miss., Pinion has seen the church grow from around 150 in Sunday school to around 300 and the budget grow from around $235,000 a year to more than $525,000.

He also led the church in removing their old sanctuary, built in 1881, and building a $1.5 million sanctuary and three-story education facility -- all while maintaining a Cooperative Program (CP) support level of 22 percent of undesignated receipts, which is double the Mississippi Baptist average of 11 percent.

During the entire planning and construction process, church members never considered cutting CP support, Pinion said. "It was not going to happen, at least not unless as a very last resort.

"These are missions-minded people," Pinion said. This summer the youth are participating in two World Changer projects. The men of the church make one or two mission trips a year. This summer they are going Colorado to help build a church.

Briar Hill also gives 2 percent of undesignated receipts to the Rankin Baptist Association and sends $500 a month to Grace Mission in Rankin County.

"These are people who made a conscious choice to tear down an old facility and build a new one, while supporting missions," Pinion said. He anticipated the possibility of opposition because of emotional attachment to the old sanctuary.

However, "There were only four opposing votes," Pinion said. "I had one of the older, leading men of the church tell me, after it was explained to him about how people are moving out this way and building new houses, that he didn't see where the church had any choice if we were going to reach people.

"This is the kind of attitude I have found among the people of Briar Hill. A way was found, however, to memorialize the old historic building in the new building. There are two stained glass windows in the foyer, one depicting the old building, the other the newer building. People have really appreciated these windows.

When Pinion came to the church six years ago, he ordered a demographic profile from the state convention board. "The demographics indicated there were over 5,000 people now living within a three-mile radius of the church.

"I went to the oldest man in our church and asked him how many people did he think lived around the church. He said, 'Well, preacher, I reckoned there are about 600,'" Pinion recalled. It took almost two years from the removal of the old structure until they moved into the new building. During that time they met in the fellowship hall, a brick building that was next to the old sanctuary.

"The two-year construction time seemed long, but it gave us the opportunity to grow in our giving. Thus, we didn't have to borrow as much," Pinion said. Current indebtedness is around $600,000, but the pastor expects it to be reduced quickly, again because the people of Briar Hill have a heart for giving.

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