Taking great pride in churches

Published 10:12 am Thursday, March 23, 2017

By Joel McNeece

One church for every 141 Calhoun Countians, that’s what Dr. Jim Futral was referring to Monday on the Bruce Square when he referenced Calhoun County as number one in the nation in churches per people.

It’s a status Calhoun County has held for many years with almost 100 active churches and a population of barely 14,000 people, and one we’ve taken great pride in.

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Dr. Futral was in Bruce speaking as part of the “Tell Me, Tell Someone” Rally sponsored by the Mississippi Baptist Convention of which Dr. Futral is executive director. He delivered a very positive message of outreach not in some far off mission field but here at home. He and his associates passed out “Tell Me” cards where he asked people to write down the names of three people and pray for them, but not just any three people — a family member, a friend and a foe.

I thought it was a powerful message of how to make a difference in your community. I’ve heard powerful messages from Dr. Futral in the past. I first came to know him as pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Jackson in the 1980s. We reminisced on some of that Monday following the program on the square and I tried to recount the number of revivals I’ve heard him preach. I ran out of fingers.

Some preachers are good at preaching, others good at entertaining and a few good at talking directly to you. Dr. Futral is among the few who can deliver on all three and he showed that Monday morning in Bruce.

He kept referencing Calhoun County’s tremendous number of churches and talking about the opportunity that exists because of it.

Six weeks ago, I began a weekly series of highlighting all of Calhoun County’s churches and the pastors currently serving at each. Best case scenario, where I don’t miss a single week, it will take over two years to get them all in the newspaper.

The experience has been a joy already both due to the pastors I’ve visited with and the churches I’ve toured. I’ve talked motorcycles with Gary Roberson at Bruce First Baptist, learned to appreciate the passion and sincerity of J.R. Eaton of Mt. Comfort, been awed by the commitment of William Harper in Vardaman, witnessed a magic show from Allen Dearing in Calhoun City, laughed at the tales of Alan Curtis Hall at Vardaman Methodist, kicked back with Anthony Edwards at Bryant Chapel in Pittsboro, soaked up some history with Charlie Fitts at Turkey Creek and marveled at the outreach and openness of Bro. Mike Whitten’s congregation at the Nazarene Church in Calhoun City.

I love the people, but the history of so many of these churches is fascinating on its own. Turkey Creek Baptist Church in west Calhoun is more than 165 years old. When Charlie Fitts and I finished our visit on a beautiful, sunny Wednesday, I had to take a stroll around the historic cemetery to marvel at some of the old headstones and the life stories so many of them represent.

Dr. Futral remarked Monday that he often brags on Calhoun and regularly tells people around the state to “come to Calhoun County and see what the Lord is doing in the churches there.”

It’s a good message for this county, but those visitors should be alerted they better plan to stay for a while to visit all of Calhoun County’s churches, and that suits us just fine.

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at joelmcneece@gmail.com.