Pauls Valley Democrat
It’s a spirit on the rise and looking to fill more souls as a longtime Pauls Valley church on the brink of closing has found an upward revival.
This revival is being seen at Valley Christian Church in far southern PV near the place where Walnut Street turns into Fields Row.
It was a place of worship with only a handful of members just a few short months ago.
Now Valley Christian appears to have new life once again as more members have joined the march back and others might not be far behind.
Leading that renewed spirit are a new pastor and a faithful member who can’t imagine life without her beloved church.
Pastor Bruce Ford gives credit to a higher power for this struggling church to get the kind of spirit needed to not only survive but flourish and grow.
“The things for God ought to be the things that last,” Ford said.
“I didn’t see God closing that church. I thought God had some other plan for it.”
Darlene Harrison considers it a true blessing the church she’s called home for decades is finding this new path.
“We were down to six members last year, and that included our preacher and his wife,” she said, referring to Larry Cornforth, who for a time came back from retirement to help keep the church going.
“Things looked way down for the church. We were on the verge of closing the doors.”
The first seed of change for the church’s future looks to have been planted when these Ford and Harrison crossed paths at a local store this past winter.
Ford was among those who gave comfort to Harrison when her husband B.R. Harrison passed away a few years ago.
It was also Ford who knew Cornforth and sometimes helped out at the church.
When Ford learned of the dwindling numbers at worship services he felt called to get involved and work to revive the longtime PV church. He has been preaching there ever since February.
“He came along and said, ‘I need a church family,’” Harrison said. “We just came together.”
“I’m where I’m supposed to be,” Ford said.
“It’s not by chance I’m there. I’m there by divine appointment.”
Just this past weekend there were over 40 people in attendance at Sunday morning services with about half of those now members of the church.
“From six, that’s really answered our prayers,” Darlene added.
Harrison and her husband moved from New Mexico to this area back in the 1960s. She’s been a member of Valley Christian Church ever since, including the current church building dating back to the ‘70s.
She’s hoping this new resurgence can return the church to what it once was.
“We want to offer to the community a place to come for fellowship with Christian people who are concerned about their souls and how they can get to heaven,” Darlene said.
“We’re not there to entertain. We’re there to learn.
“It’s not the church, it’s home, it’s the people. It’s like coming into a big family.”
For Ford it’s an intense focus on Bible study that’s bringing together a diverse group of people who will continue to work to build the church even more.
“We are a relaxed church, and we’re focused on God,” Bruce said.
“We’re a venue for people to grow. It’s not just preaching at people. We’re doing this together as a family. I love that atmosphere where everyone in the church comes up and greets you. That’s the way it is at this church. That’s what I love about this church.
“The Bible says go make disciples. You do that by talking to people. Everywhere I go is an opportunity to share Christ. I ought to care enough about people to give them the good news. Once you get them interested you’ve got to teach them. The Word will do the rest.
“People need to know there are people who care.”
Services at Valley Christian are on Sundays and Wednesday nights.