Saturday, August 24, 2013

Edwards Road - 50 Years!

This weekend I am remembering with joy the church of my youth – Edwards Road Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. Tomorrow ERBC celebrates her 50th anniversary!

My parents joined ERBC in the 1960’s when the church was young and met in the old chapel. Mom and Dad were members there for 25 years (spanning 35 years – with about ten years in North Carolina!). For years I heard the old stories of that
small group of charter members, including Jake and Frances Matthews, Billie Burns, and Chester and Esther Holmes. They had a vision for an evangelical church on that side of Greenville. While visiting Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary once and staying in the guest house, I opened a book of photographs by the bed and found pictures of the early years of ERBC! The guest room was named after Bill Palmer, who I believe was the church’s first pastor.

When we moved back to Greenville in 1980, we soon joined ERBC. I spent many happy days in the fellowship of that church, including several milestones of my life – all the way from my baptism in 1982 to my ordination in 1998. I expect that most if not all of the foundational lessons and shaping that I needed for life were first given to me by my family and then reinforced by the people of ERBC in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The church was our family’s primary social outlet, and Mom and Dad both served for years in a number of capacities. Dad stood at the front door and greeted almost every Sunday for more than a decade with his friend Jerry Fowler. Mom served in numerous areas, teaching the Bible and serving through prayer ministry. She still hears occasionally from young ladies that she taught in Sunday School in late high school, as she hoped to instill in them qualities to help them walk with God long-term.

Many people, more numerous to name, impacted our lives from ERBC. So many wonderful people, some in the grandstands of heaven now, intersected our lives: Earl and Louise Crumpler, H. S. and Linda Yarborough, David Bennett, Allie and Ann McNider, Bob and Kay Gray, Steve and Gloria Taylor, Danny and Freida Cole, Ben and Billie Burns, Mickey and Barbara Massey, Janice and Marty Clark, and countless others. I recall listening to Henry Kluizenar (not sure of that spelling!) singing songs to God with his beautiful voice. And H. S. sharing Sweet Little Jesus Boy close to Christmas.

Memories abound: Christmas parties, Easter musicals, Royal Ambassadors with Tony Brown, Children’s Bible Drill, children’s choirs, youth trips to Williamsburg, Virginia, choir and mission trips to New York, Kentucky, and Myrtle Beach, Bible studies and Sunday School. And lots and lots of fun with the youth group! I can’t remember my youth without recalling Edwards Road and her people. Numerous members of that youth group from the late ‘80’s and ‘90’s are now serving the Lord vocationally and in their churches scattered many places.

To this day I enjoy remembering gathering with the church to worship, most often led by Earl and H. S., and being together as God’s family. Those were blessed days, and I am thankful to have been a part of the church’s life.

For many years ERBC was for our family what a church should be – a place to be trained in the Word of God, a place to worship God, a people with whom to share love and life, and a place to use our gifts for God’s glory and for His kingdom. ERBC was a huge part of my “sovereign foundations” which taught me a love for the Lord, His Word, His church, the Great Commission and Great Commandment, and the sanctity of human life.

Life contains difficult choices. When my parents left ERBC in 2000, it was the most difficult decision of their entire life. In 40 years, I have never seen my parents grieve like they did during that time. That was a testimony to the love they had enjoyed with ERBC for 35 years.

Though I can’t attend the celebration tomorrow, I thank God for the church. I do remember attending the 25th anniversary celebration!

Wishing Edwards Road well on her 50th anniversary, and may the Lord use them for His glory until He comes! Thank God for that small group of people who stepped out in faith 50 years ago and started a small church!


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