By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Looking to get plugged in to the local faith community? Saddle up! There’s a new way to worship in Watauga County.
Country Church USA is a brand new outreach ministry that offers 6 p.m. Saturday night services, free live music and a casual, welcoming environment right here in the High Country every week beginning July 9.
Services will be held at Middle Fork Baptist Church, located between Boone and Blowing Rock, and will feature 30-minute performances from a different group each week. Featured musicians will come from across the state to play a variety of country, bluegrass and Southern gospel music, and a message from the Rev. Charlie Martin of Bethel Baptist will follow the performance each week.
“We’re all so used to going to church Sunday morning and going out to lunch afterward. I think Charlie’s going to do something different, kind of out of the box, to create a new mission and attract people to the church,” said the Rev. Peter Vandenberg of Middle Fork. “We hope it’s successful, and it’s something that the High Country needs.”
The local country church services will replicate a similar ministry established several years ago by Martin and the Rev. Jon Simone of Promised Land Ministries USA when they served together in Largo, Florida.
“We had a very successful country church at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks with up to 1,500 in attendance,” said Simone, who has mentored under Martin for several years. “We wanted to reach people who weren’t Sunday churchgoers. We wanted to reach the unchurched people.”
The casual, down-to-earth atmosphere will welcome folks from all walks of life who may not feel comfortable attending traditional Sunday services. The spirited bluegrass and country music will also draw crowds looking for additional or alternative services to attend.
“People will want to come and hear the music, and some will just prefer to go to church on Saturday night instead of on Sunday morning,” Simone said. “There’s no other services like this in America. There’s no other services where they can experience worshipping in such a casual, country atmosphere.”
The Country Church USA team aims to plant churches like this across the country in the future. Simone will also help plant one near his home church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Plans for the local ministry include adding Bible classes for adults and children in time.
“A lot of people can’t go to church on Sunday because they work, or things happen, or they vacation with the family or they’ve got things to do and the weekend gets more and more packed,” Vandenberg said. “Offering an alternative to Sunday morning where people are able to go on Saturday evening just might appeal to a broad group of people here in the High Country.”
If you love country music or old-time gospel singing, you’re going to love Saturday Night Country Church!
“Country church is for the whole family. Young and old are included and everybody in between,” Martin said. “There will be a place for all, with nursery, preschool, youth and Super-60s for senior adults.
“We are so thankful for the church at Middle Fork and their wonderful church family. We also deeply appreciate Pastor Peter Vandenberg from Middle Fork Baptist for allowing us the usage of their beautiful facility each week.”
Ministry leaders hope to see Country Church USA grow quickly, and, no matter what, its mission will remain: to reach those who do not know Jesus Christ as their savior, nor do they attend regular worship.
“Working with Pastor Martin has been a blessing for me. He has really become like my mentor and I have just enjoyed getting to know him in the process,” said Vandenberg. “I look forward to what God has in store for us.”
Stay tuned with Facebook.com/countrychurchusa for more information.
To learn more, contact Martin at Bethel Baptist Church at 828-297-2694.
Middle Fork Baptist Church is located on Bishops Ridge Parkway between Boone and Tweetsie Railroad. Visit Middle Fork online for driving directions.
Country Church USA Lineup for 2016:
July 9: Blue Country, the Homegoing Choir, Angela Hicks
July 16: Joyful Noise
July 23: Bethel Road and the Dishman Family
July 30: Calvary Reflections
Aug. 6: Pastor Appreciation Special Event with Amantha Mill
Aug. 13: Crimson Cross
Aug. 20: The Burnett Sisters
Aug. 27: TBA
Sept. 3: Kenny Evans
Sept. 10: Carolina Quartet
Sept. 17: Calvary Reflections
Sept. 24: The Todd Allen Family
Oct. 1: New Covenant
Oct. 8: David McMillan Family
Oct. 15: The Norris Family
Oct. 22: Lois Jane
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