Sandhill Christian Baptist Church is gearing up to celebrate its impressive 75th anniversary as a community-minded church, as members and preacher look ahead to continued success. A lot has changed in those years, with the church not only being open to around 100 people each week, but also reaching people online through Facebook lives and YouTube uploads. While some has changed, Preacher Jared Timberlake says the very basic things haven’t—such as the group’s desire to speak their word and be part of a community they love.
Timberlake has been preaching at the church since 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic shook the world. He says that it was a serious test for him but feels blessed to have had such an accepting and supportive board that helped him get the church through a mentally-taxing time that would change mindsets forever. Through their dedication to their faith, and some hard work, church leadership continued practices that made their presence known in the community, survived the long shut down, and left the ordeal with new techniques and tools in their pockets—such as their invigorated online presence.
Timberlake says the church means the world to him, feeling a strong sense of responsibility and ownership in it. His predecessor to the pulpit was his wife’s grandfather, Ronnie Blevins, who served the church for 45 years. Timberlake has massive respect for the pastor emeritus, saying he learned a lot for him.
Just before Blevins retired, Timberlake and his wife were working with the church youth, learning from Blevins in all ways that he could.
“For about four years before he retired, I would travel with him as he made hospital visits,” Timberlake said. “I would help with baptisms and really just tried to stay in his back pocket to learn as much as I could from him.”
Once the decision was made to make Timberlake the church’s preacher, he says that he was thrilled beyond measure.
“It was overwhelming and exciting,” Timberlake said. “It was something I knew God was calling me to do. The way it played out was just a very heartwarming experience.”
Despite being 75 years old, Timberlake says that many people don’t realize the church is in Wheelersburg. Partially due to the location and hill it sits on, but also because of confusion from a Kentucky church of similar name. Things improve each year, however, because of outreach activities and online improvements to their services.
Additionally, the church has been taking steps to serve two communities that the congregation call home.
The location of the church puts it very close to the boundary of Wheelersburg and Franklin Furnace.
Timberlake is a Wheelersburg High School graduate and native who now resides in Franklin Furnace. He has deep roots in both communities and it makes him perfect at reaching out to fulfill their mission to both groups of people.
“We treat both communities as if they’re our home communities,” Timberlake said. “We try to do different outreach activities and show love for both Wheelersburg and Franklin Furnace. Of course, we’re always working on ways we can just love on Scioto County as a whole as well. We want all 75,000 people to know we are a home for them. We are very blessed to be where we are, though, and with the people we are with.”
The group has been stepping up outreach activities that include free prayer stations, feeding programs, outdoor services, and are even planning community movie nights on the lawn.
“After Covid, we kind of reestablished our vision of what we wanted to be in the community and what we wanted to be for people when they took their walk with Jesus,” Timberlake explained. “We want to take church out of the four walls of our building, out into the community, and let people know we are here and we can help them.”
Timberlake finds a lot of benefits in programming that steps out of the church.
“Some people have a fear of coming to church, as far as what they think it might be,” Timberlake said. “When you bring the church into the community, you can show people that you’re there for them and it makes it easier to form that connection that will strengthen their faith and walk with God.”
Sandhill Christian Baptist Church plans a homecoming service every year in September, but, with their 75th anniversary around the corner, they are working on something extra special. This year, they’ll be hosting a homecoming revival with music and joyous events.
“It is going to be a little bigger. Our homecoming will be that Sunday, but then we will have a revival Monday through Wednesday with different music services and preachers. We will be hitting some of the rich history of our church and the many blessings God has blessed us with over the years,” Timberlake explained. “75 years is something special. To see what God has done over the years is powerful. My wife’s grandfather had the vision of a new building in his time of service to the church and we made that move in 2000, so we’ve preached under two locations. When you look back at 75 years, you see the tremendous blessing and movement of God. You see lives that have been changed. You see families strengthened. You see people finding victory in Jesus. You see a family being formed.”
Sandhill Christian Baptist Church is at 188 Midway Avenue, Wheelersburg, Ohio and Timberlake says anyone is welcome.
“Anyone is welcome to attend our services,” Timberlake said. “Our church slogan is ‘We are a family,’ so, anyone who comes through those doors, whether it is their first visit, or they’ve attended for years, we strive to make them feel like family.”
The church posts videos to YouTube the day after livestreaming on Facebook. The church also offers a kid’s ministry, teen ministry, young adult ministry, women’s ministry, and men’s ministry. For more information on the church, visit www.sandhillcbc.com.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved