The welcome mat: Bright Hope Tabernacle welcomes Liberty Full Gospel Church to unite in worship
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Liberty Full Gospel Church is on the move, literally. The Maryville church sold its building on East Broadway recently, after two years on the market.
Pastor Donnie Morton and his congregation haven’t yet broken ground on the new location on Morganton Road. Stuff has been moved out of the old location. But where does a church with no new address go?
Thanks to the generosity of another small church in the community, Liberty isn’t homeless.
Bright Hope Tabernacle, located on Doll Avenue in Maryville, has graciously invited Liberty into its fellowship. The two combined congregations are holding joint services at Bright Hope each Sunday and Wednesday. They are both Pentecostal, share the same doctrine and have pastors who have known each other for years.
“We closed on the building, the last week of August,” said Donnie Morton, pastor of Liberty Full Gospel. “We are already out. Another church has bought the building, and they are tearing things out.”
Morton said the East Broadway location was on the market for about two years. Liberty had purchased a piece of land on Morganton Road that will allow them to expand. But when the old property sold, the church had to make a decision on where to call home for at least a few months.
As it turns out, Bright Hope pastor George Whitehead is a friend of Morton’s and he knew the church’s predicament. Without hesitation, he told Morton his church could meld with his.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday the two got together at Bright Hope. It is a great fit, the two pastors said. Whitehead and Morton have known each other for 25 years. Whitehead had been attending Wednesday services at Liberty for about a year.
“We were at a pastor’s fellowship breakfast when Donnie announced he had his church up for sale,” Whitehead said. “We don’t have a lot of members so we had room for them. We are just joining together like we have always been here.”
Liberty Full Gospel got its start in Morton’s home back in 2003, which is the same year Whitehead became pastor at Bright Hope. Whitehead said he accepted Christ as his Savior the first time he entered Bright Hope, back in 1988.
Morton admitted it was a little sad to leave the place his church has called home since 2004. But it’s a brand new chapter, he said. His congregation held a stepping out ceremony on their last Sunday at the old building as they prepared for this journey.
There were a few options Liberty was looking at when it sold the East Broadway property. They were given permission to meet at Music Row or they could have leased a building. But Morton said combining with Bright Hope is the right choice to make.
“This move is not just about Liberty having a place to be,” the pastor said. “We want to reach out and encourage others. We want to be an encourager to Bright Hope.”
Will it work?
With those extra worshippers in the pews, Bright Hope will take on a different look. Liberty brings about 80 people to a church where a dozen or so have been attending. “They have made us feel welcome,” Morton said.
Both pastors have already been planning some events together, like revivals and a fall festival. A banner will be placed at the church announcing this partnership.
There was at least one person who approached Morton and asked where his church was going. When he told the man they were going to move in with another congregation, he asked the pastor if that was going to work.
“Both churches have the attitude of whatever we do, let’s do it together,” Morton said.
Currently, there is no time line of when Liberty will be able to break ground at their Morganton Road property.
Morton said the invitation from Bright Hope is for as long as it takes. “We would like to be in our new church by Easter next year,” Morton said.
And when that first service is held, Whitehead said he wants his Bright Hope members there, celebrating with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Whitehead said there was no dissension voiced in his church when they were asked about bringing in another flock. As he and these worshippers see it, they are all Christians and have the same destination.
“If you are a Christian, you ought to be able to work with other Christians,” Whitehead said.