Visiting Sciotodale Free Will Baptist Church

Randy Rucker



There is a long, long path a-winding all along the way I’ve come, Tho I will never be returning back to where I started from; but others who may follow will perhaps discover where I have gone along before them and left my foot prints there.

I remember, in the springtime, my stride was firm and strong; my foot steps never faltered, as I hurried right along. There were places where I tarried, and where I seemed to stray, but then I straightened out again, and proceeded on my way.

On a day they called Spring Renewal, Beverly, Stephanie Neff and I attended the Sciotodale Free Will Baptist Church, located on Sheila Boulevard in Sciotoville. We were surprised to be met by a Kiwanian friend, Kim Lute, who shared welcome duties with Jean Seibert. I found that Kim and David Lute conducted today’s nursery class, and junior church was conducted by Jean Seibert.

Before this new church was built, an old church existed in the area of the current parking lot. The current pastor has served here the past 16 years.

This was a day with special singing by a group from Welch College called “Rejoice.”

We learned that Welch College is a Christian university in a new campus outside Gallatin, Tenn. Prior to being where it is today, it was an old institution trapped within a historic community, unable to change or expand. A generous endowment came along blessing the college with a totally new and beautiful campus. The change of environment didn’t change the wonderful population of Welch College Christian youth who attend the college. Better than a handful of them performed in the service on this day. Though some cold days were to follow, our day in the church was as spring, fitting for the theme of this day.

We have passed this church many days as a shortcut to Wheelersburg, but today it was our church.

Pastor of the church, though present today, spoke and introduced Brother Joe, known to the church, of course. He prayed, and within that prayer he said, “Aided by your Holy Spirit today, Lord we thank you for your blessings.” The offering was passed, and he then said, “God is good all the time. We give God the credit today.” Prayer requests were offered, and it made for responses from the congregation. Then he said, “The Lord is here with us now, then where we are and where we go.”

Another prayer was offered as such, “Very thankful to come here today, very humbly we pray that all will have your love today. From God, we were given a spirit who lived and died for us, the sacrifice of a son. We praise you. We ask these things in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.”

Then the youth from Welch College presented their song service, opening with the old hymn, “Praise God from who all blessings flow,” in other words, the old 4-H camp Vesper song “Doxology,” which I love to this day.

Then Paul Wicham sang the beautiful song, “This is an amazing grace.” A dean of women travels with the group and is also the piano player. Other songs included “Great is thy faithfulness,” “Hallelujah, we shall rise” and “I would rather have Jesus,” and was sung by Jim Reeves.

It was time for another prayer, being said: “Father, we thank you …”

So then it was time for the guest pastoral speaker, Dr. Neil Gilliland. The pastor introduced him as Brother Neal. He had local roots, and was known by the congregation, who had helped him during the startup of his missionary career. We found him to be interesting, prompting us to come back for the evening service. His opening was opened in French, one of the languages he has learned in his travels. He said it was a great joy to be meeting with the Sciotodale Free Will Baptist Church.

He said that not 2two miles away, he grew up trying to hide from Dan Withers so he wouldn’t get beat up. A private joke, of course. His aunt Bessie ministered locally.

In his opening remark, he pointed out that if he could have only one book of the Bible, he would choose Phillipians because it is full of joy.

He said the pastor told him to just be himself. He thanked them, saying, “this little church had helped a man fulfill his vision to serve on the mission field. You jumped in to help us.” Obviously he appreciated that and wanted to affirm his appreciation with this church on the day we were there.

Mentioning a hymn camp meeting song of old, “I want to be an old-time Christian,” he also exclaimed that with Nero having tried to burn out and destroy the Christian religion, that would not have been a real safe place to be.

I, myself, switch off from my Bible collection to quote scripture from different Bibles. There are those who would not like that, as they would say, anything other than the old King James Version is changing the word of God. Brother Neal said, “Some people worry about transition. I am just glad it is in English.”

Looking at the Exemplified Bible today, Neal asked, “What does it mean knowing Christ?”

He said he reads a lot of children’s books, with his favorite being the Velvetine Rabbit. What is real, said the rabbit? “Does it happen all the time, no it happens bit by bit.”

Knowing Jesus Christ is the same way. We learn and grow with Him bit by bit. It is important to our Creator that we spend time with Him amidst our busy schedule. We would never have that deep experience with Jesus Christ without becoming closer to Him bit by bit, day by day?

What is it about the Resurrection that makes it so important? Well, “when Jesus rose from the dead, He defeated the devil’s ultimate weapon.”

Paul had said that the more you grab the power of the Resurrection, the more you will know God.

Christians have been in jail before, they will go again. Several weeks ago while in Cuba, some of my friends within communism are the best Christians you will know. Let me tell you, they love Jesus in such a way that makes us look bad.

Four times Jesus cried. He hung on the cross for your sins and mine. When it was the last time he did so, he erased our sins in saying, “forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.” If we are going to know Him, we have to die to ourselves. The speaker said, “I tell students having fear about leaving for ministerial college, that they are leaving home for Christ. They are, in a way, giving their lives for Christ. It is, in a way, dying to yourself with your family.” It is such that people suffer over different issues in their lives. Neal said, “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for Him. That is easy to say, but hard to do.”

He said, “I have come to the end of my talk. I pray for myself to know. I want to suffer, I want to be heartbroken and for my sins to be forgiven.

“Jesus, help me die daily so I can love you.” He shared a final quote from Peter, and then closed, asking, “Do you know Him? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?”

I know that in visiting Scioto County churches, writing and sharing our experiences that Beverly, I and the Neffs can answer yes to that one. Closing, the chorus in a call to Christ, sang, “I surrender all.”

Take some time to check out the Sciotodale Free Will Baptist Church.

As believers, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior of the World. Each one, reach one. See ya in church.


Randy Rucker

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