A glimpse of two Cape Girardeau churches

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

By Rebecca Rollins

Traffic is heavy on Sunday morning as the people of Cape Girardeau make their way to church.

The double doors of one church after another open, and the notes of music coming from the pianos and organs ring out into the open air.

As everyone is making their way through the rows of pews and seats, the choirs begin to sing their songs of worship.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound; That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see."

After the songs of praise, when everyone is seated, the pastors take their places and recite opening prayers.

First Assembly of God and First Baptist Church are just two of the many churches in Cape Girardeau where residents go to worship the Lord.

The Rev. Ron Inkenbrandt, a minister at First Assembly of God, has been at the church for just a few months. At the age of 30, Inkenbrandt said he was inspired by a radical change in his life to become a minister. He gave his life to the Lord.

Inkenbrandt said his favorite part of being a minister is "working with people and seeing their lives change." His least favorite part of the work is "dealing with all of the budgets and paperwork."

"The requirements in being a minister are to take about four years of college, have experience, and love and accept God in your heart," he said.

Membership is going very well at First Assembly of God, Inkenbrandt said. "The way we attract people to our church is to pray that they find a home to worship here. We also preach the word of God. We are willing to invite anyone who needs Jesus to come to our church."

First Assembly is about 10 years old now. The Rev. Gary Brothers has been the lead pastor for this church ever since it began.

Every Sunday there is worship and Sunday school from 9 to 10:45 a.m. On Sunday evenings, worship is at 6:30 p.m.

Freedom Rock, which is sponsored by First Assembly, is a place for youth to go and have fun. It is open on Fridays on North Kingshighway.

Once every quarter there is "school of worship" which is worship that can be fun and meaningful at the same time. Music and instruments are used to follow the lesson.

First Assembly currently sponsors many missionaries who are stationed all over the world. Some are in Russia and Alaska. These missionaries teach others who do not know about Jesus and God, Inkenbrandt said.

"If you need a place to worship, First Assembly is looking forward to meeting you," he said.

The Rev. Mike Shupert of First Baptist Church on Broadway has been a minister here for about 14 months.

He said he decided to become a minister because "God called me while I was in college."

His most favorite aspect of the ministry is the people, he said. Shupert's least favorite aspect is budgets.

In order to become a preacher, Shupert said, "One needs to be affirmed by a church and to get a call from God."

First Baptist is about 150 years old and has been served by 10 ministers in he past. Worship times are on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to noon and from 6 to 7 p.m.

Membership is doing well for First Baptist. "We've lost some people due to some changes in the church, but we're also gaining families who are looking for a solid church home," he said.

At First Baptist there are many programs: activities center, youth activities, Mother's Day Out and Helping Hands House. These programs help children and grown-ups get involved in church activities, according to members of First Baptist.

First Baptist's services feature wonderful music. There are graded choirs and Wednesday night youth, "Cape Extreme," which uses a lot of upbeat Christian music.

Bible school was held earlier this month. "Mount Extreme" and "Bible Lands Tour" have been two recent themes that the church has used.

The church also sponsors basketball teams for grades 1 to 6.

First Baptist is an exciting church to attend, where worship can be fun and meaningful at the same time, its members would say.

Cape Girardeau has many churches serving different religions that are all great places to worship. When traffic is heavy on Sunday morning, you know the people of Cape Girardeau are headed for worship services all over town.

"Twas grace that taught my hear to fear; And grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed."

The music stops ringing through the open doors and the only sound is the pastor bowing his head to pray, "Thank you, Lord..."

Rollins is a student in the Cape Girardeau public schools.

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