There are many great communities in the modern world today. We are currently living in a time where acceptance and advancement is starting to take the grand stage in American history even more so than before; in the result of that, multiple people and groups have came to considerate stand points for some individuals and ideas. Unfortunately, one community, that is supposed to be the most considerate of all, is having a difficult time attempting to get through to some people and adapt. That is the Baptist Christian community, and they are misunderstood by the majority when it comes to acceptance. One great example of their devotion to outreach can be noticed in the novel A Texas Baptist History; Baptist’s were describe to be unshaken by the falling economy and were committed to helping others affected during the Great Depression. Sadly, this was nearly a century ago, and the reputation of the Baptist church has started to diminish from what it once was. One example of this would be the small congregation of folks from the First Baptist Church of McConnell in southern West Virginia.
The Time-capsule Church
They are a small but fortunate church for their area. It is common to hear of their outreach programs that help close to a thousand families a year, and it is normal for them to be eager when seeing new faces visit them on a Sunday morning service. Sadly, over the past five to ten years, their membership count has seemed to be dropping. It was usual for a crowd of 300 people to show up five years ago, but now it is rare to have 200 on a normal Sunday. The attendance for a mid-week and youth service has dropped exceedingly as well, but why? There can be multiple different reasons, but one comes to mind instantly when speaking of this subject. This church seems to be stuck in time with traditional ways. Recently, the youth has started to push back against this time barrier with new lighting equipment and other small cosmetic changes, but they keep getting pushed into a creative box. Although few other factors have contributed to the decrease of this churches membership, they are not responsible for the reputation given to this community of wonderful people.
It is understandable when people may choose to not have a spiritual life, but it is baffling that some have a sour attitude towards this community. This group of people seem to be so desperate to help unfortunate others, so why would anyone want do discredit them? It is obvious that people can be easily offended, but that can be avoided most of the time. This community is supposed to be one of love and a caring nature, so they should automatically be considerate of others. This is where the idea of “changing the method and not the message” comes into in grand scheme of things, so it is safe to say that this church is not always considerate of others. The best way to observe why consideration isn’t always the first worry when it comes to this group of individuals is to look at their background.
The Political Views
Naturally, everyone has a different story in the game of life, so it can be a clouded discussion when trying to describe why they do certain actions. On the other hand, it can’t be disagreed upon that human beings can be selfish to the point of destruction. Yes that may sound a little dramatic, but it is an honest fact. Even when it threatens the reputation of the community, they ignore the consequences of their actions. Strip the negative natural layers of a human being and what would one possibly see? It is possible one would see their political views or thoughts as a driving force for their responses or attitudes towards certain things. A study conducted in 2009 showed that youth from different political roots reacted differently to certain situations. The conservative youth seemed to be more dependent on their social environment and their personality, essentially, changes when they are alone; liberal youth seemed to not change as much and remained consistent. Although this was performed towards a study pool of youth, it is definitely related to the older generations simply because they are the parents and leaders. In Southern West Virginia, the population is predominately conservative, so this would be a small explanation to why the members of First Baptist McConnell may be resentful towards change. They could be so dependent upon the way the environment is, they question if it needs any configuration.
Fear of the Unknown
With the idea that political views may be a factor in the stubbornness of this community, it brings up another topic of why Christian Baptist churches receive a bad reputation. It is possible that they fear any form of change within the community. If an individual has any type of fear and the ability to avoid it, they will use it the ability to avoid the fear. Psychologist Morris Eagle states in one of his articles, "A basic observation that engendered concepts such as transference, resistance, and repetition compulsion is that, particularly in emotionally important and intimate relationships, people tend to repeat their typical relationship patterns—even when this pattern is associated with distress and suffering". Obviously this community is not in a actual relationship with the church, but the same principles apply. Not saying that these certain individuals would feel terrorized by the idea of change, but they would fear to idea of having to give more than the usual or being expected of more. As time has progressed through the church, it is noticed that people have started to put the community on the back-burner, especially when it comes to acceptance. This mentality has been the reason members have decided to turn their backs and find a new path; whether it would lead them to another Baptist community or not, it is still a heart breaking thought.
When observing why this community has a bad reputation, one cannot ignore the fact that the actions of a few can destroy the image of thousands. The best example in this case is the actions of a church in Texas, and they’re the Westboro Baptist community. Although this church is located states away from the small community of First Baptist of McConnell, their actions of hate are known internationally. “WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH TO PICKET FAG ENABLER DARIUS RUCKER AT EXPOCENTRE”, a disgusting headline in flyer mentioning the protest of a country singer who was simple open to the acceptance of homosexuals. When individuals show this form of attitude, it pushes away so many others. It takes the compassionate and long-built image of the Baptist community and destroys it completely in society’s eyes. Obviously no one has ever had this drastic of attitude towards others in the First Baptist McConnell community, but sadly, it still affects them as if they were a part of it.
A Bright Future
In conclusion, these reasons plague the image of the Baptist Christian community, and by extension, the First Baptist Church of McConnell. I personally and deeply desire change within this community; No one can aid in the reconstruction of their image but themselves. It has been a massive pillar of my life so far, and I loathe the idea of it failing due to selfish reasons. With the youth beginning to take part in the grand schemes of the church’s mission, I have a small glimmer of hope that change is imminent. Time will show how the direction of this church can and hopefully will change. With the future leaders of this community being aware of the change resistance within the church itself, they can successfully adapt the church to the modern society.
The images below consist of my personal church family at the First Baptist Church of McConnell. Throughout some of the photos, we are simply horsing around and joking. I have chosen these images because they explain the bond made within our churches walls in a humorous way. We all love having simple meetings just to fellowship and catch-up with one another. Some of the other images are of the actual church building we attend, and I implemented them to show the facilities we have been fortunate with to spend time together. There is no doubt that the friendships made within those walls will last a lifetime. The rest of the images that contain food boxes are of the church's annual Christmas Outreach Project that supplies $800-$900 worth of groceries to 300 unfortunate families in our area. It is the church's biggest outreach project of the entire year, and it has become a tradition to do it.