Recently a chest that belonged to my grandfather who died in 1972 (born in 1884) was opened for essentially the first time since his death! The only two still living children (my mom and one of her brothers, both in their 80’s) and some of my cousins gathered for this event, to watch my mom and uncle look at the items in this chest. Among the various antique items were about 20 photos dating from the 1920’s to 1940’s. A number were of my grandmother who sadly died at the age of 33, and there were previously unseen photos of her.
There were also two photos of a pastor, Pastor Carlton Barnes, pastor of Flint Baptist Church near Baconton and Camilla, Georgia in the 1940’s. Here he is:
Isn’t it interesting there were two photos of him? Why? Because he was special.
Flint Baptist was predominated by one family, the Collins. Now, the Collins were good people. In fact, my mom has good memories of how they faithfully picked them up for Sunday School (as the parents were not regular attenders). When my mom graduated from high school, one of the Collins, Laurie, was her mentor and advocate, and helped her get her first secretarial job. In fact, I was named after Laurie (Laura) – so that shows how much my mom appreciated her!
However, the church revolved around the Collins and this family held sway. Apparently previous pastors just went with the flow in this regard. But Pastor Carlton Barnes was different. My mom said he did not discriminate and embraced everyone in the community who had any connection to the church. He reached out and did not cater to the Collins. He did home visitation and demonstrated genuine care for all – even my mom’s family, poor tenant farmers.
Before Pastor Carlton Barnes, my mom never remembers a pastor visiting them. Pastor Barnes even asked them to host a “cottage meeting” in their humble home (which lacked electricity and indoor plumbing). A cottage meeting was when they had prayer meeting and a Bible study at a home instead of at the church.
My mom’s father (my grandfather) professed to get saved at one of these cottage meetings, and was baptized in the Flint River and joined the church.
See what a difference pastoral care and outreach can make?
A while back I had a blog post about the Puritans and pastoral care: Pastoral care? Learning from the Puritans. One Puritan pastor (Richard Baxter) made it a priority to meet with every single family in his parish once a year, and there were 800 families! An excerpt from that post:
“Other pastors followed Baxter’s methods because it was successful.They would see more conversions to faith and more growth in faith through personal interaction with families – than with any amount of preaching. Now, the Puritans did excel at preaching and certainly did not neglect it, but essentially they found that they reached more people through ministerial labor and personal spiritual care. This makes sense to me. In fact, my response is “no, duh!”. Taking a personal interest in someone can make all the difference in the world. Knowing that someone cares can be a powerful encouragement. Yet, I find shepherding is too often neglected today…”
⇒ ⇒ But this is also a lesson for us, those of us who do not have a formal position as a pastor. The New Testament is filled with “one another” verses – verses that state a multitude of different ways that Christians are to care for each other. It is not only the pastor’s job!
Note that although the Collins predominated this church in a less-than-positive way, some individual Collins reached out and were caring and helpful. Remember, I was named after a Collins!
Personal outreach can make a tremendous difference in a life. I’ve actually blogged multiple times, taking various approaches, on this topic. Peruse the post category on the right of the blog, Christian fellowship/church life, to find some.
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Laura, thank you very much for sharing this lovely portion of your family’s history with us! It illustrates the impact of faithful witnessing from one generation to its successors, like ripples in a pond. Let us all do likewise!
Hi Tom, and thanks for your encouraging comment. I told my mom that I would make this a blog post, and I did!
What a good daughter you are! 😉
Riverside Peace said:
I’ve been in pastoral care ministry since my husband and I left youth ministry. (yeah. Our two teenagers didn’t need us in that role too) 25 years on, I visit only a few since most visits are to my dad. It’s a ministry I highly recommend. It’s a very important ministry and it’s without any thanks or recognition. I doubt there’s more than three people at church who know that’s what I do but it does make a difference to those shut-ins.
Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I think some of the most beneficial ministry is behind the scenes, and can involve those overlooked or forgotten. “to the least of these” Matthew 25.