Church welcomes need for expansion

Project: After almost a year, work is nearly complete on additions and renovations to Gethsemane Baptist's 16-year-old building.

March 09, 2001|By Chris Bowen | Chris Bowen,SUN STAFF

When Gethsemane Baptist Church held a fund-raising campaign in May, the goal was to raise $900,000 for additions and renovations to its 16-year-old building.

With the help of a banquet at Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville and some generous donations, the 200-member church exceeded its goal by $60,000.

Gethsemane is nearing completion on its nearly yearlong project. An addition of 10,000 square feet, to be used primarily for educational purposes, is to be finished in May. It will also include additional church offices and more space for the sanctuary.

"We definitely felt the need for more space," said the Rev. Terry J. Stockman Sr. "We certainly have been blessed with the chance to grow."

Gethsemane, named after the biblical site where Christ prayed earnestly on the night he was betrayed, began meeting in 1978 in rented space at the old Westwood Church, near Triadelphia and Ten Oaks roads in Glenelg.

The church's first pastor, the Rev. Eugene Brotherton, served for two years before resigning because of health problems.

Agonizing decision

After Brotherton's resignation, the small congregation faced an agonizing decision: whether to close the church. A representative from the Maryland-Delaware Baptist Convention met with church members and urged them to continue worship.

After a series of interim preachers, Gethsemane Baptist's first longtime pastor, the Rev. Tim Simpson, arrived and directed the church for 10 years.

Under the guidance of Simpson, the church broke ground in 1984 on a 4-acre plot on Burntwoods Road in Glenwood. The building was dedicated June 30, 1985.

After Simpson stepped down in 1992, Gethsemane Baptist experienced a period of transition - with seven interim pastors serving the church over five years.

In November 1997, Stockman became the church's leader. What sets the church apart, according to Stockman, is its friendliness and acceptance. "If someone is not genuinely welcome, there is a problem," he says. "We have a desire to make folks feel welcome and loved."

Variety of activities

The church offers many community activities for its congregants, including religious classes for children and adults, holiday musicals, community dinners and vacation Bible school.

Two of the church's most successful programs include a free community sports clinic held at Glenelg High School and TeamKID, a ministry program that teaches life lessons to children from preschool through fifth grade.

"We have a great TeamKID program that gives children fun activities intermingled with showing them how to live a Christian life," church secretary Susan Anderson said.

Members of Gethsemane Baptist notice the warmth and kindness of the congregation.

"One of the things that first attracted us to the church was the friendliness of the people. They want to come up and include you in what they are doing," Tracy Goebel said.

The congregation also focuses on the individual. "The small groups here help us make new friendships and learn more about God," Goebel said.

Gethsemane Baptist Church

Denomination: Southern Baptist Convention

Leadership: The Rev. Terry J. Stockman Sr., pastor; the Rev. Rick Phipps, associate pastor of worship and administration

Size: 200 members

Location: 14135 Burntwoods Road, Glenwood

Founded: 1978

Phone: 410-442-5853

Worship services: 11 a.m. Sundays

Children's programs: Sunday school, 9:45 a.m.; Baptist Student Fellowship (middle/high school), 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays; TeamKID (preschool through fifth-grade), 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Wednesdays

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