By Charley Alexander and James Moore
A true church of Christ must preach the original gospel of Christ and follow the original pattern given in the New Testament for its faith and practice. Such a church wears the name of Christ without any denominational name and teaches the doctrine of Christ without any denominational doctrines (Rom. 16:16; 2 John 9-11). That is exactly our aim.
As elders of the church of Christ here in West Columbia, we want to give a report marking thirteen years of work completed. A church of Christ began here in the early 1920s, moved to nearby Damon in 1928, and started again here in the early 1930s. The R.C. McKinney family was instrumental in this effort and the church met in their home at times. In 1940, Roy Stevens secured an old army barrack which was used to construct a meeting place. His son, R.J., would later marry one of the McKinney daughters, Pauline, and would become a gospel preacher and co-editor of a widely-used song book (Hymns for Worship). H.H. Norris was the first located preacher here. About 25 preachers have worked with us through the years, but none has continued his labors with us as long as Ron Halbrook. Together, we have completed thirteen years of work for the Lord.
The Halbrook family arrived in West Columbia on July 27, 1984 and moved on July 28, 1997. The Halbrooks and other Christians who meet here have many fond memories of our work together. As elders, we have tried very hard to fulfill the duties of overseeing the affairs of the church as outlined in Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:2. As an evangelist, brother Halbrook has tried very hard to fulfill the duties of preaching the gospel as outlined in Titus 2:15 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5. There has always been a complete meeting of the minds on the truth of the gospel which was taught. There has never been a doctrinal disagreement between brother Halbrook and ourselves because we are united in “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:4-6).
Through the years, God’s people have faced controversies with denominationalism, premillennialism, liberalism, worldliness, and other devices of Satan. It has been no different during brother Halbrook’s stay with us and it will be the same in the future. He has held up our hands in these battles and we have held up his, because the Lord teaches us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Presently, God’s people are being tested by the marriage issue, the misuse of Romans 14 on fellowship with doctrinal error, and many forms of worldliness including immodest dress. We did not compromise with such error before brother Halbrook came, and the truth was upheld while he was here, and we do not plan to budge one inch from the strait and narrow way now that he is gone (Matt. 7:13-14).
Many have been baptized and others restored while brother Halbrook has been with us, and many have moved away or become unfaithful and have been withdrawn from (2 Thess. 3:6). This always has been the course of events among the people of God. God teaches us to be constant and consistent in preaching the truth and to trust in him for the results. As this church has worked together, “God gave the increase” according to his will during these thirteen years (1 Cor. 3:6). Rarely during the history of this church have we reached 180-200 in attendance, and one of those periods occurred while brother Halbrook was here. In recent years, about 80 people have died, fallen away, or moved their membership because of job changes, retirement, or other factors. In spite of that, we can still have 130-140 when everyone is well and present. Our small community numbers only about 4,500, yet the church is larger here than in many cities and we shall continue to spread the gospel in our area with confidence that God gives the increase.
Efforts have been made to improve our Bible classes during the last thirteen years. When brother Halbrook arrived in 1984, we had an unusually large group of young people, mostly pre-teenage. He began a short training class with songs and memory verses before Sunday evening services. Eventually, this program grew into four classes for different age groups. Brother Halbrook worked with one class teaching young men to prepare sermons. Also, our Sunday morning and Wednesday evening classes for young people have been better organized by using the Truth in Life and Walking With God series of workbooks. A pro-gram was devised offering three classes to the adults on Sundays and Wednesdays. During the three-year cycle, every book of the Bible was offered along with many topical subjects. The program has been revised as needed to accommodate new subjects and other factors. Wednesday morning classes have been a highlight for the men and women who have attended, having just completed a study of Genesis through Deuteronomy. In addition, brother Halbrook helped us to renew our Vacation Bible School work, which has been very successful.
During these years, the church has emphasized the importance of training men to faithfully preach the gospel of Christ (2 Tim. 2:2). Several of our own men have developed their talents through the years, and some of these are preaching regularly. Andy Alexander went into full-time preaching in 1988. While maintaining his secular job, Paul Krenek developed in a fine way and is helping the brethren nearby in Angleton at the Kiber St. Church of Christ, along with Rickey Moore. Five young men from other places spent several months with us gaining experience to preach. They were Carthel Thomas, Marc Gibson, Doug Lancaster, Steve Curtis, and Steve Deaton. So far as we know, all of them have remained faithful to the Lord.
Throughout the years, the West Columbia church has been evangelistic minded. During these thirteen years, we have supported ten to fifteen men on a regular basis in the U.S. and around the world. In foreign evangelism, we pro-vide regular support to men in Mexico, Italy, South Africa, and the Philippine Islands. U.S. preachers making trips to various places have been helped temporarily, such as helping brother Halbrook go to the Philippines and helping Steve Deaton go to Lithuania. We often have sent emergency help to brethren scattered around the world. Brother Halbrook’s sermons often emphasized the importance of spreading the gospel throughout the world and we hope to always press forward in that good work (Mark 16:15-16).
Much teaching has been done through sermons, newspaper articles, home Bible studies, gospel meetings, and other efforts during these years. Brother Halbrook will tell you that all of this work is not a one-man effort, and it cannot be done with the help of the elders and deacons alone, but it requires everyone doing his part. We have recently completed gospel meetings with Connie W. Adams of Brooks, Kentucky (March 16-21) and Tom Roberts of Ft. Worth, Texas (July 20-25) with good lessons for saints and sinners. Future meetings are scheduled with Mike Willis, W.R. Jones, Alex Caldwell, and Bill Cavender.
As these thirteen years are completed, we bid Godspeed to each other, but we plan to stay in close contact. When brother Halbrook first approached the elders in late 1996 about his plans to move, he made it clear that it was not because of any ill-will or doctrinal disagreements but was due to a new program of work he wanted to begin. He will be holding more gospel meetings and spending time preaching in the Philippines Islands each year. To accommodate this work, he will labor with Andy Alexander in a two-preacher arrangement with the Hebron Lane church in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Andy (the son of Charley) grew up here in West Columbia and was in the lumber yard business. Shortly after Ron’s arrival, Andy studied and worked with Ron in preparing to preach. His first full-time work was with the El Bethel church in Shelbyville, Tennessee (Jan. 1988-Aug. 1993). Since then, he has preached at the Hebron Lane church.
When the Hebron Lane elders heard about the program of work Ron planned to do, they invited him to work with them there. Because of our common interest in spreading the gospel in the Philippines, the church here will help with brother Halbrook’s expenses in his travels. We recently sent another large shipment (30 boxes) of used song books, Bibles, Bible study literature, and clothes to our struggling brethren in the Philippines. As he enters his new work and travels, he goes forth with our blessing, prayers, and moral support in addition to any needed financial help. We recommend him to churches wanting book, chapter, and verse preaching in gospel meetings. His new address is 3505 Horse Run Court, Shepherdsville, KY 40165.
While thankful for the past thirteen years, we are not resting on the past. Our attitude is like that of Captain Paul Jones in 1779, who said to the British, “Sirs, I have not yet begun to fight.” There is always much work to do in God’s kingdom and we plan to do our part to the best of our ability. In all these labors, God and not ourselves must be glorified. “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10). Just as we have enjoyed a good relationship with brother Halbrook, we expect to have an equally good relationship with the new preacher.
We take this occasion to announce the arrival of David Weaks and his family as of August 11, 1997. Brother Weaks was converted from Roman Catholicism some years ago. He comes to us after spending five years working with the Fourth and Groesbeck church in Lufkin, Texas. He is an able student and effective preacher of God’s Word. Sound preachers highly recommend him and we welcome him along with his wife, Perry, and their daughter, Lindsey, to West Columbia.
We are confident brother Weaks will hold high the banner of Christ, preaching the whole counsel of God, like brother Halbrook and the preachers before him have done (Acts 20:27). Brother Weaks’ new address is 654 Gray St., West Columbia, TX 77486. When traveling in our area, visit the church meeting here on the corner of 15th and Jack-son Streets. A warm welcome awaits you!
Guardian of Truth XLI: 17 p. 16-18
September 4, 1997