By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
GLOSTER, La. (LBM) – For many years, Gloster Baptist Church has helped carry the torch of Georgia Barnette, who served as a missionary with a passion for sharing the Gospel as the first elected and paid Woman’s Missionary Union executive director/treasurer for Louisiana Baptists.
Not only does the church have boots on the ground in their own community and other towns throughout Louisiana, but Gloster Baptist gives generously to the annual state missions offering named after “Miss Georgia.” According to Pastor Ron McLellan, the church (with an average of 100 in Sunday worship) in the last 12 months has given $14,638 to the annual offering which honors Barnette’s dedication to spreading the Good News in Louisiana; and they have set a giving goal of $16,000 for 2022.
McLellan, who has served as pastor since 1995, said his church’s commitment to doing whatever it takes to further the Gospel nearby never ceases to amaze him.
“Our Gloster family amazes me with their willingness to go on mission with God to places like Sulphur, after hurricanes ravaged the southwest; to Plaucheville to do a music and arts camp; to a foster care camp held in North Monroe; and most recently to the inner city of Shreveport to support The Hub homeless ministry,” McLellan told the Baptist Message.
Locally, Gloster Baptist serves meals to teachers; prayer walks and volunteers for events at a local school; assists widows with various needs; helps special needs persons make crafts at Holy Angels Residential Facility in Shreveport; leads worship for a community men’s prayer gathering and periodically serves breakfast at The Hub ministry to human trafficking victims and the homeless in Shreveport.
The church also sends a team once a month to lead worship at 3:18 Church in Shreveport. Following the service, members prepare meals that are served to those in attendance.
Featured in the Week of Prayer Guide for the Georgia Barnette Louisiana Missions Offering, 3:18 Church, pastored by Matt Tyson, spreads the hope of Christ among those living in Shreveport’s inner city.
The partnership between the two churches began shortly after McLellan was diagnosed in December with cancer. Tyson learned about the situation and stepped up to fill the pulpit once a month from January to April.
In June, Gloster Baptist began sending its first team to 3:18 Church.
“I needed someone like Matt and trusted him in pulpit,” McLellan said. “I’m thankful he had the servant’s heart to come in, preach the Word, and help us to continue to have vibrant worship experience on Sunday morning.”
“We have caught onto his vision to reach the homeless community in Shreveport,” he continued. “He’s genuine in his desire to touch people’s hearts and lives and (he) shows Christ’s love to them.”
Because of the generous giving of churches like Gloster Baptist, Louisiana Baptists are able to continue the vision of Georgia Barnette more than 114 years after she first led women to begin taking up an offering for state missionaries in 1907. The offering was named after her in 1937.
Some of the missions and ministries dependent upon the missions offering are church planting; compassion ministries; prison outreach; ministry to victims of sex trafficking; disaster relief efforts; Louisiana Baptists’ multi-media outreach strategy, “Here for You”; and Woman’s Missionary Union scholarships to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Louisiana Christian University.
“This offering stays in the state of Louisiana,” Louisiana Baptists Women’s Missions and Ministry Strategist Christine Gill, said. “The idea is to encourage our church members to contribute to something tangible. Every dollar is used to minister to people who live in your area. The money given to the Georgia Barnette Louisiana Missions Offering will literally benefit the person next door to you, whether it’s through disaster relief or planting a church in your community, engaging with a compassion ministry, or doing missions education in your church.”
“Without Georgia, these ministries cease to exist in our state,” she continued. “It’s of paramount importance. We want to reach Louisiana for Christ, and the Georgia Barnette offering provides a way to do just that.”
Sept. 11-18 has been set aside as the Week of Prayer for state missions and ministries. Resources, including videos demonstrating the scope and impact of the Georgia Barnette Offering, have been mailed to churches across the state. This year’s offering goal is $1.7 million, and churches are urged to begin promoting the Georgia Barnette Louisiana Missions Offering now. Online promotional pieces can be accessed at GeorgiaBarnette.org.