It is very hard to change from a person who has spent his life trying to encourage others to follow Jesus to a person in solitary confinement. In fact, it is not possible. I can hardly wait until we get the green light to put a hand on someone’s shoulder and convey the kindness of the Lord. There is a line in something written by Teresa of Avila which reads, “Christ has no body on earth but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours.” She powerfully made the point that we can reveal Jesus if we love and serve him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our touch can be the touch of Christ. This may sound mystical, but that is exactly what we mean when we speak of the church as the Body of Christ. This temporary distance must come to a close. Being the Body of Christ is more important than life itself. For a time we are lovingly withdrawing, but God will call us forth to once again touch the world. May we all do so with a new resolve and a new vigor. The old saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” is compounded when the call of God is fervent and the time is short. It truly is short you know. One day we shall all be with the risen Lord and with one another for eternity. Until then we must continue to reach out and touch the world.
These days have been the strangest days of my life. I sometimes feel like a character in a science fiction movie. The adjustments we are being asked to make right now are understandable, but let us not be deceived into thinking that we are in control of our own destiny. We all have an appointment with God someday. Maybe this is why we are going through this. It is an opportunity for us to realize our dependence on God. Our hope is in the Lord and not in our government. We should each avow that when this strange time has passed we will not forget the lessons learned in these days. No matter how much we have tried to limit our contact with one another, God is never distant. He is with us. We should be finding more time for prayer and reflection on the real purpose of life
. We should also have greater respect for those who are faithfully serving us in these days regardless of personal risk. Just as we have remembered fireman rushing into burning towers in 2001, we should remember medical personnel and other public servants who have courageously met needs in the midst of quarantines.
Those lessons of 2001 as well as the lessons of today remind me of a God who would not keep his distance from a sinful and fallen world. He sent his one and only Son into the world to come into contact with all of the contamination of sin in order to overcome it for those who would believe in Him. He would not keep His distance then, and He is not keeping His distance now.
Early this morning , I read all the history I could find of Crestview from her founding in July of 1961 until 1995. I am thinking that I need to have that collection republished in a new format for those who would like to see it. I especially enjoyed the discussion about the vision of the lay persons who founded the church. We are building today on the foundation they laid. The first 2.5 acres that belonged to this church was given by Harold Parker. The current Fellowship Hall and kitchen was the original structure. The Prayer Chapel was the foyer of the original Worship Center. The columns along the wall in the Fellowship Hall extend to the center of the peak of the room above the current drop ceiling. The ceiling was put in at the same time as the movable walls during the late nineteen nineties. This provided much needed adult bible study space to grow our Sunday morning Bible Study. In order to provide the support for the movable walls, Buck Christian built an amazing beam of wood that is supported on the north and south walls. It took a large group of men to lift the beam in place. It was made of two very large two by twelves with a metal plate in the center. When completed the Fellowship Hall could now host three adult classes on a Sunday morning. Currently we have a large class meeting in the Fellowship Hall and could possibly add another at some point. Even with our large Adult Education Building there is a need for more classes. The day is coming when our current Worship Center will be a large bible study/event venue and the back part will be more adult classes. The vision is for at least a 1200 seat Worship Center to be built on the East side of the Commons extending back over the area we use for overflow parking.
The other elements of history that are recorded are the names of each of the five pastors who served before my arrival and the length of their tenure. Jarvis Philpot served twenty two years. My tenure is now going on twenty five years. Between the two of us we have served here all but a dozen or so years of the existence of the church. Of special interest to me is that one of the former pastors, T. F. Collier, was once my pastor. In fact he performed my baptism at my home church in Bangs where he served during the very first years of Cresview’s existence. I was baptized in the Spring of 1960 and Crestview started in July of 1961. T. F. Collier came to Crestview in July of 1966. I had not known he had been here until my first week as pastor when I saw his picture in the old church library. I always feel divinely led to places where we serve, but that discovery underscored my sense of destiny here.
In 1995, Crestview had no guiding documents other than a personnel policy manual. A committee was formed to write a constitution and bylaws. The purpose of the document was not to be a legalistic rule, but a reflection of the organizational structure and intent of the church. Two of the members of the committee that are especially remembered as participating were Betty Knauth and Cecil Ray. Betty’s husband Fred had served many years as treasurer before passing away and she had been a part of the beginnings of the church. Dr. Ray was retired, but had a background as an executive in the Baptist General Convention of Texas as well as being the former Executive Secretary of the Baptist Convention of North Carolina. We studied several examples from other churches and then formulated our own. One of the decisions we made was that we would not restrict receiving members to only those who had made professions of faith and been baptized in a Baptist church. This was deemed an idea about membership based on what is known as Landmarkism. We acknowledged that in our day there are many churches with identical understandings of the nature of salvation and believer’s baptism, and that requiring another baptism for such persons was not necessary. They could be interviewed and instructed as to our understanding of church practices and polity and if found in agreement, received by statement of their faith and baptism. We also inserted a plan for a person to be under the watchcare of the church if they were not desirous of believer’s baptism due to an affinity for another denominational heritage and yet wanted to be more than a continual visitor. This status would allow us to more carefully care for and minister to such persons who desire to company with us just short of full membership. These persons could not vote or hold positions of leadership, but otherwise could be an important partner in ministry.
We also developed a living personnel policy manual that has undergone several revisions to accommodate a growing church. We developed a Deacon Handbook in 2006. We have a missions manual that has been written and revised to accommodate the changing realities of our direct missions work. This is also a living document that is coordinated by our Missions Committee. New opportunities and realities require constant review of these documents due to the growth of our church.
Finally, in 1995 Crestview adopted the following mission statement which is based on an understanding of the Great Commisssion of our Lord found in Matthew 28. It is as follows:
We are people sharing Jesus through Lifting up Jesus (That is worship and prayer.)
Learning to follow Him, (That is discipleship.)
and Leading others to know Him, (That is evangelism and missions.)
because people need the Lord.
Some might argue that relocating Crestview would have been better than seeking to buy enough room to grow. It was my strongly held belief that we needed to stay in our present location. Because we were close to some rental property and more affordable homes, I felt confident that we could be a church for a broad cross section of Georgetown. I never like to see a church become made up of only one ethnic group or only one social class. If we are going to share heaven, we need to share worship and ministry. I also felt staying fairly close to the interstate was good for us. Fortunately, the houses around us were moderately priced. Our second purchase of a house was toward the East, just beyond our current park. This house sat on Williams Drive. It would become our Singles Bible Study house. We would also use it for special programs such as Camp Crestview. This house served us well for several years. At one point my wife and I started a young singles class in the house in addition to the class led by Tommy West. Several of the people in that class are still active at Crestview.
Our third purchase of a house was the house on Mesquite where our detention pond, apartment, and storage building are. We had a staff member live there for a time, but tore the structure down to make it possible to move our detention pond, which used to sit on our East parking lot, across Mesquite to its present location. Next we purchased the house at 411 Ranch Road. We had a Spanish Mission there for a time, but later needed the extra parking so we tore it down and built a parking area directly on Ranch Road. Our next purchase was of the former Missionary Residence on Ranch Road. This was used for a time as an additional youth building, but then was developed into a house for missionaries on furlough. We are in the process of tearing it down for additional parking. In May of 2007, we purchased what is today known as the West House (Formerly the SoloHouse). This has been the most useful structure we have ever purchased. it serves as a great location for ministry to singles, those going through divorce, and a location for special events of various kinds. We also developed a temporary playground on the site when we were without a playground for a season. This purchase also allowed us to open up Oak Lane to our property. It had been fenced in for years though belonging to the City of Georgetown and clearly a part of Oak Street which also enters our property from the East side of our lot. In 2016, we purchased the house next door to the West House on Oak Lane. We used it as a transitional residence for a church planter and his family, the Russell Stanphill family. We also used the house for temporary storage. Finally we purchase the house and extra lot at 1906 Mesquite Lane, which we are developing for storage, parking church vans and carts, and an eventual hospitality house. This entire process has spanned more than twenty years.