Father's Arms Fellowship marks 10th anniversary

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ten years after its start, Father's Arms Fellowship doesn't seem to have changed much.

Of course, there's been the move from the garage at the pastor's home where the Scott City church first met to the building at 1400 Main St. it purchased seven years ago; the addition of a youth and children's area and a major remodeling project that was finished in time for the anniversary celebrations.

But some things have stayed the same since the nondenominational church began a decade ago.

Members, who came to clean and repaint the building Thursday, say the church is still as loving and supportive as it was in the beginning.

For the five years they were actively involved in the congregation, Webster and Opal Eaker say the church showed the love of God. "This organization is a testimony as to what it means to have Christ living in you," Opal Eaker said.

There's a sense of real fellowship in the congregation and in the community, said Pastor Ken Strong.

And the addition of new members hasn't changed that. "We've grown so much from that first service," Strong said. There were 13 people at the first service and now the church has more than 120.

Enthusiasm for churchThe congregation will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a service at 10 a.m. Sunday. Mike Ahmed will speak, and the church plans a celebration lunch at 2 p.m. at Delmonico's in Jackson.

The lunch is so late because the service could last a long time since people are so excited and enthused about the anniversary, Strong said.

And it's that excitement and enthusiasm that has helped keep the church growing. About half the congregation is children and teens.

Many times churches don't invest in children like they should, said Nancy Strong, the pastor's wife. "And sometimes people get discouraged because there's nothing there for them, but we've had a handful of people who've stuck with us and made things happen to make a better church."

The children's ministry is a prime example. At the beginning, Nancy Strong would take the children into a separate room for a children's service. As the number of children grew, she began asking for helpers.

Jerri Moore was one of those early volunteers. Nine years later, she serves as the children's minister. "The Bible says we're to be imitators of Christ and he liked the children," Moore said. "That's what Father's Arms is about."

Many of the children who attend have never been to church before, but members have been willing to help teach them and act as role models, Moore said.

Ken Strong has been pleased with the community's support and response to Father's Arms as it seeks to develop ministries in town. Many other ministers have been supportive of Strong's work since he first felt a desire to start the church.

Father's Arms Fellowship grew out of Strong's desire to see a new church begin in Scott City. He had been a youth pastor at Christian Faith Fellowship when it was in Scott City. Yet he felt God calling him to start something new.

The church began with Sunday evening Bible studies at the Strong's home in 1994. Eventually the group grew and need more room. The church members moved to a garage that was renovated to look more like a church and stayed there for about two years.

Healing broken familiesThe move to the current location gave the church a sense of permanency and foundation.

Today, the church has plans for reaching its community by teaching the children about God. The band Barefoot plays worship music on Wednesday nights for the teenagers, and puppet skits are always part of the Sunday service for children. Connecting with children and youth has helped the church reach parents, Strong said.

"We're seeing homes restored and children from broken families are seeing a ministry to that wound in their life," he said.

Worship service Sunday is at 10 a.m. and weeknight services through Friday are planned as part of the anniversary celebration. The weeknight services are at 7 p.m.

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