Changing hands: baptist church extends reach

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette Pastor Brian Mason of the Ontonagon Baptist Church poses outside of the Calvary Baptist Church in South Range.

The Ontonagon Baptist Church has taken over the pastoral duties and management of the Calvary Baptist Church of South Range.

“Ontonagon Baptist Church unanimously voted to take on Calvary Baptist Church of South Range as a mission church, meaning Ontonagon Baptist will be legally and financially responsible for Calvary Baptist,” said Pastor Brian Mason.

With both church’s being non-denominational and independent, Mason stated that it was important for the members of the Ontonagon Baptist Church to help when a fellow church was ‘struggling.’

“When I heard that a church similar to ours had only a handful of members and was struggling, I reached out to the pastor and asked how we could help,” said Mason. “We began to pray about what God would have us do. God leads in our hearts, and lives for me to assume the pastorate of Calvary Baptist Church while still continuing my pastoring duties in Ontonagon.”

The church in South Range will be renamed, according to Mason, and there will be Sunday afternoon services starting at 2 p.m. This allows Mason to still be present at Ontonagon Baptist on Sunday mornings. This dual pastoral and management began at the start of the year.

With the church in South Range being a mission work, the members in Ontonagon have control over all the administrative aspects of the church in South Range. Mason and his parishioners are hoping that in a year or two, the church in South Range will be financially strong enough to have their own pastor.

Mason stated that some of the members of the Ontonagon Church have already been helping to re-build the church in South Range.

“Some of the members of Ontonagon Baptist Church have already been inviting people out to services in South Range,” said Mason. “Most members in Ontonagon will be involved in a supportive way, but from a distance.”

After the 2 p.m. service on Sundays, the Baptist Church in South Range will have Sunday school at 3:15. They will have Bible study and a prayer meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.

“We hope to provide children’s church during those times as well,” said Mason. “This summer, I’d like to bring in a special speaker and have a week of revival meetings, and I’m also considering running a VBS (vacation bible school).”

While the members of the Ontonagon Baptist Church are concerned about the added pastoral duties that Mason has now that he will be preaching at both churches, especially given that one is located 40 miles away, he remains positive on the new undertaking.

“In a day and age where fewer and fewer people go to church, it is important to have a loving, Bible-preaching church,” said Mason. “We aren’t a perfect church, but it is our desire to glorify God and serve him.

“What better way is there to glorify God than to love him with all our hearts and seek to grow in grace and the knowledge of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ?”

“It’s this relationship with Christ that we work to grow and build while bringing people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, involving them in the local church,” said Mason. “This endeavor seeks to glorify God while involving people in the local church.”

The members of the Ontonagon Baptist Church hope the church in South Range ‘grows quickly.’