By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
It’s been more than five and a half years since a pastor was last called to Helton Memorial Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Stevenson.
That’s why Jack Tucker got a call on a Sunday morning in March.
“I’m not an ordained minister, but Helton Memorial is special to me,” Tucker said. The 120-year-old church was his wife’s family’s church before they got married. “There are a lot of good memories there.”
So that Sunday morning, when he was getting ready to go to his own church — Trinity Baptist Church, Scottsboro — and got a call to fill in at the last minute at Helton Memorial, he said yes.
‘I’d be there’
“One of the ladies in the church told me the pastor they had lined up wasn’t able to make it,” Tucker said. “I get that call once every six months or so. I told them I wasn’t sure what I’d speak on, but I’d be there.”
He was used to speaking to an older congregation at the small church, but when he arrived that morning, seven adults and around 15 children and youth greeted him.
Laid on his heart
“God laid on my heart that morning to speak about how to handle anger in a biblical way, so I did,” Tucker said.
And as he finished up, one of the women at the church asked him if he would mind giving an altar call.
So he did that too.
And during the minutes that followed, one after another, the altar filled with both young people and adults desiring prayer, wanting to know Jesus and wanting to join the church.
Through the years, Tucker said the faithful members there have been doing the “planting and watering.” And a group from the association came and conducted Vacation Bible School there last summer, which was the first introduction some of the young people had to the church.
“But even so, it absolutely shocked me,” Tucker said. “After that service, I called Dwight and told him what had happened and told him they might need to set up a baptism service and somebody to come do it. I told him I could do it if he wanted.”
Dwight Everett, director of missions for Tennessee River Baptist Association, also has been filling the pulpit regularly at Helton Memorial for a while now.
“It’s a sweet church,” he said.
‘Not done working’
Through the years as the congregation has shrunk in number and faced difficulties finding a pastor, he wondered if they would shut their doors.
“And then something like this happens,” Everett said. “It’s like God said, ‘I’m not done working there. You don’t know my plans.’”
On March 15, Everett brought a portable baptistry, and Tucker baptized seven people. Three of them didn’t come planning to get baptized — they decided to follow Jesus during the service and asked to be baptized too.
“One of them, a high school-aged girl, just wept,” Everett said. “She was gloriously saved.”
He’s working now to find someone to disciple the new believers who have joined the historical church tucked away in the mountains. Tucker hopes that person might be a new pastor.
“The church has persevered, and God has blessed them with these new souls,” he said. “There have been a lot of people from the association who have been faithful to go and preach there, but I’m praying God will send them a pastor.”
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