The heart of Portsmouth


Randy Rucker



Getting into the heart of Portsmouth Ohio we took a Sunday morning church visit to 1226 14th Street and that was Beulah Baptist Church. At the time we were there a banner at the church front recognized that Beulah is celebrating 100 years. One can see that the windows are of the unique architectural design of a building built in 1917!

We were welcomed at the church as early arrivers greeted by a first arrival church member, Al Oliver. He is well known throughout Portsmouth as a baseball hero, former member of the World Series Pirates. He joins Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, and Manny Sanguillen, the well known Club Lumberjacks of the 1970’s known for hitting balls hard and far. I should have known he would be the first one there as he always is as a member of the Portsmouth Kiwanis Club.

AL “Scoop” Oliver (getting that name for his outstanding fielding abilities) is a deacon at Beulah and opened today’s service. It was an honor and blessing for us to attend this lovely church and their warm hearted parishioners. AL opened the service with a scripture reading and a lovely old hymn, “We understand it by and by”.

Then came forward Deacon Benson with an introduction, prayer and another old hymn, “no, not one”, following was another hymn, “there’s not a friend like Jesus” and “glory to his name”. “There to my heart was the blood applied….Glory to his name”!

Then it was time for testimonies. One lady told that she went to work and was having a bad day and she had an assignment she needed to complete. She was having a hard time getting into it but her boss told her to buck it up. So she prayed about it and trusted God to help her do it. She was obviously blessed having done so. Another walked forward to say how thankful she was that God gave us a new Pastor in November. She went on to question why we can’t thank God for everything we do today. After that she went forward in her testimony to thankfulness for various aspects of the church and its family of members. It was Deacon Benson’s turn and he continued to highlight reasons to be thankful in church and in his life. He said, “if I had a million dollars I couldn’t be more thankful”. Al Oliver came back to the podium reading a scripture and delivering a prayer. Then he turned the service over to a praise team consisting of Elyse Buckner and Celeste Adams. With beautiful voices they proceeded to sing, “he’s awesome, and God is able”. (Don’t give up on God because he won’t give up on you”)!

Church Pastor Newman came up to the podium and said they were glad to have visitors in the house of the Lord this morning. That was us and they invited us to come back anytime. He also invited all in today’s service to attend an evening session and dinner at a neighboring Pleasant Green Church having a special anniversary celebration for their pastor (which has since been held). A lady of the church discussed a calendar of events within not only the church but throughout the community, which I thought was nice. She encouraged all to attend a local theatre play for children. AL Oliver had asked for prayer for a specific church family which recently suffered a loss.

Pastor Newman again came forward and said, “a visitor doesn’t come by accident, but by divine intervention”. Well I have to say, I certainly agree. Then he told how the church had set up a Kroger Plus card account to benefit a sister of the church. Members can record their cards to benefit this cause. The method for delivering ties and offerings was a unique experience for us. The Pastor invited all to stand and face the wall on their side of the church. I thought the two Deacons, front middle would walk through the aisles with their baskets. Not so. We were invited to exit our seats and walk up to the front depositing offerings into the baskets and then going back up the middle to our seats. I loved getting a little walk in the middle of church. What made it even more enjoyable was getting to walk past all the other congregation members which gave us all a sense of unity.

Then we got to meet a church interpretive youth dance team which has four members, though only two were in attendance today and they were quite good.

The Pastor came forward to deliver his message, pointing out he uses the New King James version in his ministry. Today he was teaching from Mark 10, verses 17 to 31. He quoted, “Now as he was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before him, and asked him, Good Teacher, what shall I do that I might inherit eternal life”? So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is God”! In verse 21 Jesus directed him to sell whatever he had and give it to the poor. Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “ How hard is it for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!

This is where Pastor Newman encouraged his church to not only be a local church but a community church. You start with me and I will start with you. We have to move from the norms of what we are used to, to the standards as to what God wants us to do. “I want to be part of the Kingdom Church”. In order to be a Kingdom Church we have to be faithful to local principles. We must ask ourselves, are our local principles at the same time achieving principles of the Kingdom. If we are going to be doing what we should be doing we have to be sure the principles we stand for on Sunday are the same principles that are visible in our lives on Monday. When you turn your mindset toward a Kingdom Church you have to smile in such a way to display your standard and live an appropriate lifestyle. We must not just imitate, but validate this standard. “I can tell you God is working with you to help each of us in these regards”.

We are not to be Jesus, but Christ like. We as Christians should live the principles of the Kingdom. He said, “Jesus didn’t call for us to have the best fried chicken on Sunday, or the best chorus, he commissioned the churches to spread the Gospel”.

How well I have learned his next thought! “There is more than one church and that means everywhere you go you need to follow your purpose of building a church of Jesus Christ, or a Kingdom Church.

The message was quite long, as is usually the case I wonder if it is written for us the guests. But as Pastor Newman said earlier, a guest doesn’t come by accident, but by divine intervention.

He wrapped up encouraging church membership to come forward to his challenge of turning Beulah into a Kingdom Church, reaching throughout the community, spreading the work and love of Jesus Christ. All went forward. After a final prayer by the Pastor, he challenged that we can be ugly in our lives or pretty. The choice is of course our own! Love to all!

What a lovely service and a lovely day at the corner of 14th and Unity, (though it is really Union) as the Pastor called it. If you would like to see a pictorial review of visit you can go to medium.com and search my name.

As believers let us share the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world. Each one reach one…. See ya in Church!

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Randy Rucker

Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.

Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.