Twenty – six years of any good thing is worth celebrating, and what better way is there to celebrate than to have a month of inspiring activities?
That is exactly what Messiah Missionary Baptist Church plans to have as it observes Shepherd’s Month throughout June.
The celebration will include a series of special activities and events designed to honor Messiah’s pastor, Rev. Stephen Clay, for his 26 years of leadership and spiritual guidance.
“This is going to be a pretty festive time for us,” Clay said. “I’m definitely grateful for having 26 years with this church family. On some days it feels like every bit of 26 years, on other days it feels like we’re starting for the first time. But it has all been a blessing because each year has had its life lesson.”
Grateful members of the Messiah congregation were more than happy to express their appreciation for Clay by planning events this month.
“This celebration aligns with several scriptures where God shows us how to treat the ministers of God,” said Marilyn Gill, chairperson of the Shepherd’s Month celebration. “We should show them love and appreciation, and Pastor Clay is an anointed man of wisdom who has a passion for winning souls and teaching them the uncompromising message of the Word.”
Clay, who has served as pastor since 1982, has led Messiah to appreciable levels of growth, but says there is still plenty of work that needs to be done so that the church can continue to function in the purpose God has for it.
“The brick and mortar of buildings is not important to us now. We want to become stronger spiritually,” said Clay. “We have plenty of members, now we need to focus on developing disciples of the Word. We also want to expand existing programs and create new ones to increase our presence in the community.”
As far as the celebration is concerned, pastors from several guest churches are scheduled to speak during services each Wednesday in June at 7 p.m. They will include Rev. Melvin B. Girton of Christ Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Fitzhugh L. Lyons of Galilee Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. Ray S. Ware of Eastside Baptist Church.
Also scheduled to preach on June 17 are Pastor Theron Williams of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church and Rev. Michael Jones of Progressive Baptist Church on June 24.
As a part of this month-long celebration, national recording artist Bishop Larry D. Trotter of Chicago and his Sweet Holy Spirit choir will perform during a musical celebration on Sunday, June 14 at 6 p.m.
Other special guests on the calendar for 11 a.m. Sunday services include Rev. Freddie J. Clark of Shalom Church and City of Peace of St. Louis, MO; Rev. Jimmy Baldwin of Shiloh Church in Baltimore, Md., and Bishop Richard Sanders of Pilgrim Baptist Church, Compton, California.
The month-long activities will close on Sunday, June 28, when Rev. Errol D. Gilliard, Sr. of Greater Harvest Baptist Church of Baltimore will deliver the 11 a.m. celebratory sermon.
Many churches observe Shepherd’s Month events to encourage and express love for their pastors, but Clay said Messiah’s activities are special because the entire community is invited to join the festivities.
“We encourage everyone to come out and be uplifted by some of the greatest preachers in the country,” said Clay. “At the end of the month we will have a dinner where people will be fed both physically and spiritually. We are really looking forward to having a magnificent time.”
Messiah Missionary Baptist Church is located at 5640 E. 38th St. For more information about Shepherd’s Month call (317) 568-1534.