Patriotic messages flavor services

Music, speakers, outreach this month carry Fourth of July themes

by W. Winston Skinner

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The sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Newnan was the location for a Freedom Celebration that included music, pageantry and remarks by a military hero.

America celebrated another birthday, and churches in and around Coweta County took note of the special day.

Several churches held services with patriotic themes during the time around July 4. Churches also took part in fundraising events and outreach during the time for remembering the beginnings of America's freedoms.

A Freedom Celebration was held at Flat Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville on June 30 and then again on July 1 in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Newnan. The sanctuary choirs and musicians from both churches took part.

The speaker for both Freedom Celebrations was Jeff Struecker, commanding officer of Black Hawk Down. The Fort Dodge, Iowa, native served 22 years in the military and retired as a chaplain.

Now co-pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, Struecker shares some of his experiences and his faith journey at First Baptist. The service also included the presentation of the colors and recognition of military personnel from all branches of service.

One of Coweta County's oldest July 4 traditions, the Moreland Barbecue, is sponsored by churches. The barbecue has been an Independence Day event for 65 years. Volunteers from First Baptist Church of Moreland, Moreland United Methodist Church and White Oak Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church cooked the pork and brunswick stew starting July 3 and then served and sold plates on July 4.

Even though the first week in July presented an abundance of rain, the Moreland event was a success and was well attended. The Puckett Station Arts and Craft Festival, held in conjunction with the barbecue, included a booth-selling pottery, plants and baked goods mounted by Allen-Lee United Methodist Church in Lone Oak.

At Moreland United Methodist Church, there was lots of activity on July 4. A flea market was held in the fellowship hall with most items selling for a quarter. Also, the church's Quilters group sold raffle tickets for their latest creation.

Members from Pleasant Hill Baptist Church on Gordon Road reached out to those attending the annual fireworks spectacular in Haralson on the evening of July 5. Volunteers brought slices of ice cold watermelon which they offered free – along with Bibles.

Providence Baptist Church on Providence Church Road and Rehoboth Baptist Church in Luthersville were among the churches holding patriotic-themed services on July 7.

'It was awsome,' Doris Smith said of the service at Rehoboth. She said T.J. Boyd, the church's associate pastor who preached that day, had the congregation stand and say the pledge to the American flag before his sermon, which 'made me cry.'

Smith said the service also included 'a very touching video' featuring the song 'I Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb.'

At Allen-Lee Methodist on July 7, the song service included 'America' and 'America the Beautiful.' 'We're going to have communion, and it's also going to be our Independence Day celebration,' Chad Hill, pastor of the church, said in greeting the congregation.

'We're going to celebrate freedom – freedom for our country, but also freedom from sin,' Hill said.

'The Fourth of July -- what does it mean to each one of us? Is it a time to shoot fireworks and eat barbecue, or is it a time to think about what it took to make this country?' Hill asked. He suggested America's freedom is 'as hard to maintain as it was to make.'

Hill said believers need 'to stand up for what we think is right' knowing that many people in other countries do not have that option.



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