A town had formed and was growing

Randy Rucker

Carved from a Southern Ohio Wilderness, a town had formed and was growing. Brick making was in it’s heyday and mining still occurred in the area of South Webster Ohio. Agriculture was still of primary importance. In 1923 local residents had determined to build a church in this South Webster Ohio location. Years later it has been rebuilt into the beautiful church it is today.

We were very pleasantly surprised to be joined in our project on this day to visit another Scioto County Ohio church. Longtime friends Chris and Stephanie Neff had contacted me asking if it would be all right if they joined in on some of our visits to local churches. They have done some of these visitations on their own and it is old hat to them. So they joined us today and we were greeted by a warm welcome and wonderful experience. Those little boys having fun in the back rolls were a pleasure to see as well!

Folks are interested in how we select a given church each Sunday and Beverly pretty much leaves the selection to me though she likes to know in advance. We had this church in mind for several weeks so we made it happen in visiting the Bloom Freewill Baptist Church located on RT. 140 in South Webster, Ohio.

Children singing opened the service. Several of the songs included Jesus Loves me, the B-I-B-L-E, and others. One little girl came forward and sang several beautiful verses of Amazing Grace!

The Associate Pastor came forward and led the congregation in a religious version singing Happy Birthday to some including each name. (Lola Holt, Paisley French, Johnda Durham, JD Griffith and Ronda Hagen) It was very nice.

Then there were adult testimonies and a call for the choir to come forward with an enlivened effort to get more to join the choir. It was still a sizeable group participating. The choir sang Wonderful Grace of Jesus!

A thought came to my mind that when you go to these different churches and know so few you realize how small you are in this world.

A lady went to the podium to speak and talked of the joy in bringing grandchildren to church. She talked about family values and then presented a reading prayer called “I’m resolved”! Loved her comment, taught by the Bible, led by the spirit, the heavenly way”. She went on to say, “I love this church, these people, my family and Pastor. I love singing and listening to these old hymns. I just love him (Jesus) this morning”!

Time for the offering and one attendant carried a clicker counting people sitting in the pews, a very interesting way of getting attendance as not everyone attends Sunday School for an easy count. At the end of the offering I was surprised when everyone began clapping. I thought that was a nice strange but then I noticed the organist who had been playing beautifully all morning had risen to go forward in joining four others in an acapella performance at the microphone. By this time we were clapping as well! Then remembered from childhood the beautiful song, “In the Valley”! What beautiful melody and a precious thought, “In the valley he restoreth my soul”! How can one not say Amen?

Then Angie Womack Griffith came forward to offer a beautiful solo again accapela. It’s pretty neat that although they have such a beautiful baby grand piano a number of selections were accapela, a nice touch allowing the congregation to enjoy those beautiful voices! So this lady offered the selection of “Through the Fire” and that can I say got them out of their seats!

The acapella group performance was performed by Joy Harner (pianist), Diana Stonerock, Ed Claxon, and Marie Bouts. (A thank you to Tiffany Lenegar whose response gave me some information I was able to use in editing this piece!)

Now my friend Ryan Stockham introduced us and our blog. His mother and father had told me he sings at Bloom Church, and they had that right! Another Angelic voice. We never realize the talent all around us. Ryan’s introduction was pleasant and nice, though a surprise!

“Then God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death; nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”! Revelation 21:4! The next song, “No more night”!

Maybe one of the reasons we are enjoying this is that getting around we are finding a tradition of many to sing the old hymns. Though we too love the modern praise and worship churches, we so love the old hymns! A pleasant change and one of the reasons we are so enjoying our fellow believers of Scioto County Ohio worship. Beverly pointed out though that there was a nice mix of contempory and traditional in some churches. There is a tranquil difference in the way we as a people worship.

Dwight Cole came forward to sing the beautiful song, “There is a God”! Stop and think about things we love, there is a God! Science says its always just circumstance, but if you want to put it down, just look around, there is a God! How much proof do you need?

Ryan Stockham and four other guys (I later found to be called “The Watchmen”, a group having recorded an album or two) came forward to sing several selections which included “Fair thee well” and “Forgiven again”! Loved by all and a tremendous congregation response!

The Associate Pastor, Allen Harner came forward and had all stand to pray for his sermon! His sermon for the day was Psalm 139. Just go take a look at it and extend your study time.

The pastor went on to speak on the recent birth of his child. He discussed the peace of a birth at which time he felt the presence of the Lord. Eli Faith is his second daughter and he said he knew what it was to have a child but had no idea how to have children. I had been an only child all of my life. Then he referenced King David who said, “I will praise thee in every stage of life”. He went on to say, “that in every stage of life we should praise God. We may not always feel like it. But at all times praise the Lord. So as I awaited the birth of our child I praised him”!

Pastor Harner said, “The master potter, our God has decided to give us our life. Despite all of our technology only God can do that. We were fearfully, wonderfully and relevantly made. God made us so wonderfully that man is still trying to learn how it was done. But before God made us he created our souls. We also face different stages of life in our souls, as we do our body. Because he lives today, I live tomorrow. Can I raise two children, you bet I can! We can meet every stage of our life as we praise him”!

“He knows about everything in our lives. Every breath that I take, every move I will make, he knows because he knows my name”. Continuing to discuss psalm 139 he said, “how precious are thy thoughts, more numerous than the grains of sand. No one cares like Jesus”! “If you never trust God for the little things you will never trust him for the big things”.

“God has a plan for you, even when bad things happen to you, even in a sin filled world. God’s presence is always with us. God could have chosen to give up on us but instead he gave us a Savior, Jesus Christ. Whosoever will can be a part of this salvation”. The pastor said “no matter where you have been or where you are going he is with you”! Then there was an alter call with the organist playing “Come as you are”!

Associate Pastor Harner closed with “I love you all, appreciate and pray for your families and ask that you pray for mine as well”!

Bloom Free Will Baptists pastor is Kenny Klaiber, Associate Pastor as mentioned is Allen Harner. The youth pastor is Shawn Campbell and youth leader is Ryan Stockham!

As Beverly and I have already learned the Freewill Baptists are well represented locally. However we are not here to define denominations, (though on occasion I will give you a little history of denominations, which I had already briefly discussed the Freewill Baptists in a previous blog). We are here to be a part of the worship that occurs within the churches filled with believers in our community. So happy to have Chris and Stephanie Neff join us on this day and this time we can say we followed the Baptists to dinner. Who will it be next time. Want to join us at a future location, just let me know — the more the merrier. Thank you to all of the lovely folks at Bloom Freewill Baptist Church! You will always be in our heart! God bless, see ya in church!


Randy Rucker

Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.

Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.