Photo submitted A 5,000-pound cross is a focal point when entering Flat Rock Fellowship Church. However, the biggest focus there is on Jesus and His acceptance.

Photo submitted

A 5,000-pound cross is a focal point when entering Flat Rock Fellowship Church. However, the biggest focus there is on Jesus and His acceptance.

For pastor Gene Vincent, of Flat Rock Fellowship Baptist Church, simplicity is very underrated.

We live in a day and time when a fast-paced lifestyle consumes almost every waking moment. From how we communicate with one another to our hectic 60 hour work weeks. From how we eat our meals to even how we worship the Lord. Checking off the days of our crammed packed lives loses the benefits a slower stride brings about. This, among God's calling, is why the Flat Rock Fellowship Baptist Church became what it is... a simpler way to worship and fellowship with one another.

"The whole concept of our church is in its simplicity," said Vincent. "It looks different because it is different. It sits out there in the middle of the country, open as the field it sets in. God gave us this idea and we listened to Him, and we ran with it."

The church body grew from a small group of friends who began meeting in the home of Glen and Brenda Burton. Vincent, who was ministering at a Beechland Baptist Church in Lewisburg at that time, began an intimate home Bible study in 2016. He never imagined the Lord would lead him to where he is now, which to him shows us God has a plan and we must slow down long enough to hear it.

"I did not expect to be part of such a wonderful challenge, one of starting a new church," said Vincent. "I was happy where I was and served wonderful people at Beechland Baptist. But I am also extremely blessed to be a part of Flat Rock."

It didn't take long for the small Bible group to realize as they grew what God could bring by stepping out of the home and into a larger meeting space. From a living room, the group began meeting at Just Piddlin Farms in Woodburn right across the Logan County line on Thursday nights.

"It was the perfect place at the time for us to meet," said Vincent who can't thank Chip Willingham, owner-operator of Just Piddlin, enough for making it possible.

But the group soon felt God's pull once again as more began to attend.

"We began talking and wondering if God was leading the Bible study to a larger plan, one of developing a church," said Vincent. "We had lots of ideas and we had seen we had lots of people in our community that have gone to church for years and years and then stopped for different reasons."

Vincent said those who had been gathering for over a year just wanted to worship their Savior without all the stress of programs, committees, and stringent structure. The body that was brought together in a living room wanted to keep that simple form of worshipping and being together, offering it up to others who wished to do the same.

"We are not in any way knocking other churches at all," said Vincent, "But we knew we were not going to be like any other church. We went into this wanting to be different."

The group began collecting funds and placing them in a bank account. It didn't take long before they had enough to begin making plans... simple plans.

Thanks to the generosity of Kenneth and Kim Womack, three acres were donated and selected to be the site of the new church, located at 311 Flat Rock Road, Woodburn.

"We wanted to build in this area to feed those from many directions. There wasn't a close-by Southern Baptist church for miles and we believe this is where God intended us to be," Vincent said.

When plans were drawn, a barn style was apparent and fit into the "simple" message wanting to be shared. A 28-foot cross meets the eye the moment you enter through the doors built by Arland Overholt and his son Travis. The 5,000-pound cross sets off a wall of windows that look out into an open field. The baptismal is a cow trough.

"This has been a big step of faith," said Vincent. "We want to do it right and want it to be a blessing to our community. It has all been God and not us. We have just followed Him."

Open since November 2018, the little barn church has a plethora of attendees and a mixture of people. Lynda Holland serves as keyboard player and her brother, Kelly rings the historic bell on Sunday at 10 minutes till 10 a.m. right before services begin.

The bell Kelly rings is a family heirloom as well as once serving the Shakers of South Union in the 1800s. Kelly's grandfather, Armour Holland purchased the bell in 1922 during the Shaker sales. It has served as the Holland family dinner bell for generations.

"I can remember my grandfather used it as a dinner bell and after he sold the farm to my mom and dad, JD and Mary Moore Holland they did as well," said Kelly who got into trouble as a small child trying to ring it. "I'm 61 but I have just enough kid in me to want to ring it and now I don't have to worry about people coming out and telling me not to," he chuckled.

Kelly and his sisters Lynda and Kim Holland Robinson have loaned the bell to Flat Rock Fellowship Baptist Church to call in those who want to worship the Lord.

"I think there is a lot of people not just in South Union but all over that have quit going to church because the church has become too corporate or too much of a business. People tire of constantly worrying about what's next to do on the list and not enjoying their brothers and sisters in Christ," said Vincent. "I think that is why we are growing. We just want to provide a place for people to come and worship Jesus without the hassle of all the noise. We take every kind of people who just want to come and take a deep breath and say 'wow' to God's presence.