The Stubborn Church A church refusing to let go of traditions

The Misunderstood

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.

Image of a Sunday Service

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.

Image of all fathers in the church on Fathers Day

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.

Image of Mrs. Godby, one of the churches longest attending members

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.

Image of all mothers standing for Mother's Day

Hypocritical Actions

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.

Images of youth related events/services

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.

Image from Christmas service of 2015

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PHOTO ESSAY

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.

Images of different youth related events
Images of the annual Christmas Outreach Project with nearly over 1,250 in attendance
Images of the church's sanctuary and fellowship hall

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ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Storm, Ingrid, and David S. Wilson. "Liberal and Conservative Protestant Denominations as Different Socioecological Strategies." Human Nature, vol. 20, no. 1, 2009., pp. 1-24doi:10.1007/s12110-008-9055-z.

This article mentions multiple different studies performed to see how the actions of liberal and conservative Christians differ from one another. One study focused on teenagers from families with both political affiliations, and there seemed to be many variations between them. Although they had Protestant-Christian based values, they would handle and responded differently to certain situations. The researchers behind these experiments seemed to notice that the teenagers would still implement parts over their own culture (negative or positive) into their spiritual and public lives. I would like to explain throughout my next paper on why and how this has negatively affected the Christian community as a whole in today's society.

Early, Joseph E. A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook : A Companion To Mcbeth's Texas Baptists. Denton, Tex: University of North Texas Press, 2004. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 4 Dec. 2016.

A Texas Baptist History shows the history of the Baptist Christian community throughout Texas from the early 1800’s all the way up to the later 1990’s. Throughout the read, it can be notice the supportive environment that Christian Baptist can construct, but we can also see them take it down in some cases. It fit really well with my essay in many cases, but I chose to only use the portion of it describing Christian Baptist during the Great Depression. Reason being is it shows the mentality that they had during one of America’s most desperate time. They were quick to respond to the aid of others. Although this book is about the Christian Baptist of Texas, it indefinitely reflects the congregation of my personal church, The First Baptist of McConnell.

Fags, God Hates, and FAG ENBLERS. "Westboro Baptist Church." (2010).

This is a horrible citation, and I do not agree with this community at all when it comes to their beliefs. It is extremely unfortunate that communities like this one give Christian Baptist a horrible name. Although it is a terrible source, it does aid one of the points of my essay. When on the subject of “the actions of a few can destroy the image of thousands”, there is no greater example than this one. There is no doubt that the actions of this community have completely soured anyone’s outlook towards Christian Baptist or any Christian denomination for that matter. This is a truly heart breaking realization.

Eagle, Morris. "Why Don't People Change? A Psychoanalytic Perspective." Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, vol. 9, no. 1, 1999., pp. 3-32http://muezproxy.marshall.edu:2135/docview/1689317429?accountid=12281.

This article is a great source for the fact that it looks at behaviors through a psychoanalytic perspective. It has great examples and also aids in explaining why some people may fear change. For the portion that aided my essay the most, I used the example of how people can get into emotion distress when the daily normal is changing in relationships. Perfect example that applies to how older members have acted when the youth want to get evolved with new ways of outreach.

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REFLECTIVE PIECE

This essay has given me many different tools to use when writing any formal essay later down in my educational journey. I feel as if my Advocacy essay did reach the answers for the research questions I had thought of a few weeks ago; I feel confident that I could spark and carrying on a conversation about my topic with tangible evidence and information (More than likely will when I return back to this community after the semester). I had always used sources, but I had never really enjoyed implementing them into my work. With this essay, I liked it although I had a difficult time trying to find them. Using the databases had made the research less-stressful and fairly easy. I feel as if many people had never really written about the topic I was presenting. I have no doubt that if my topic would’ve been about another subject, it would have been a little much easier to find good sources. Throughout the writing, I was constantly worried about offending someone or someone taking my words out of context, but that was my fault in choosing the topic. I do not regret writing about this community of people I love and care for though. I actually appreciated the opportunity to explain why I believe it is not where it should be. Besides the doubts of finding supporting sources for the essay itself, I feel confident in researching difficult topics by knowing what to look for and how to do it. I believe my essay does answer the question “Why Baptist churches have bad reputations” by showing some examples and explaining why people act the way they do. There is a lot more overall story behind these reasons, but they are the ones I believe to be the most important when wanting to change. A change within this community is needed for the sake of its’ survival, and it always starts with the individual. As in the previous essay, I loved using Adobe Spark. This is a great and easy program to use, and it was one of the factors that made me enjoy writing this time around.

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