Braxton Citizens' News, Community

Gassaway Baptist Church to celebrate 10th anniversary in new location

By Brenda Gibson

Gassaway Baptist Church will commemorate 10 years of ministry in their location on Beall Drive near Gassaway with a special celebration during Sunday morning services beginning at 9:30 April 21.

According to celebration coordinator Lori Dittman, the congregation and any guests who would like to attend will be treated to the Sunday worship service, video highlights of the church’s past ten years, special singing and a reception following the service. 

As the church prepares for their celebration, Senior Pastor Mark Stump reflects on the work God has done in that time.

“We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of a major leap of faith,” Pastor Stump said, going on to describe it as “miraculous.” “We have truly seen miracle after miracle from God. So many people thought this could never be done—not just here in our church but on the periphery too. That’s (building and moving into a new church) a huge task to undertake. God has certainly been faithful.”

Pastor Stump believes that God has a design for everything. “When I look at these past ten years, it’s miraculous how the pieces have all fallen together,” he said, “and that’s not by accident—it’s in accordance with His design.

“And I’m not talking about the building. It’s miraculous how God has woven the people together into a tremendous body. We have people from all walks of life, from diverse family and cultural backgrounds, yet everyone fits together. Like the pieces of a puzzle, every person is important in God’s design.”

According to Pastor Stump, the areas of ministry that have been absolutely vital over the past ten years are worship, Kingdom Outfitters (Sunday School) and small group ministries. “God commands us to worship,” he said. “Everything else comes from that heart of worship.”

Pastor Stump describes Sunday School at GBC as topic-related rather than age-generated. Every quarter people may choose from new electives, almost like college. The offerings are needs-based, he said, focusing on such topics as single parenting, blended families and current events.

The church’s small group ministry is really “relationally based,” Pastor Stump said, rather than simply the acquisition of more knowledge of the Bible. “It’s living life together and supporting each other.”

In addition to these major ministries, Pastor Stump says the children’s ministry and youth ministry are of equal value as well. “All our ministries are part of the tapestry God has woven together here,” he said. “We recognize that the centrality of Christ is everything. Everything has to be for Him and for the growth of His Kingdom. That’s irreplaceable.”

Pastor Stump is quick to identify people as the greatest blessing the church has enjoyed over the past ten years, pointing out that all have gained new friends, new brothers and sisters in Christ. “Jesus came for people,” he said. “This ministry is about seeing lives transformed and God glorified.”

The veteran pastor finds joy in the church’s unity despite the constant changes that take place. “We’ve never had a church split, despite our building and moving to another facility,” he said. “It’s been amazing. The things that usually split churches have not done so here.

 “While some churches regarded the COVID pandemic in terms of its devastation, we looked at it as an opportunity for outreach. We were respectful of the government mandates, but it gave us an opportunity to expand to livestream to reach people during the quarantine. We accepted the challenge of it and accepted it as an opportunity; we were enriched through it.”

Setting and reaching goals are integral to Pastor Stump’s vision for the church. “We’ve steadily moved forward, but the further we move, God puts another goal in front of us. The accomplishment of that goal leads to another,” Pastor Stump explained, offering the example of the church’s desire to have someone to lead family life and children’s ministry. Once that was accomplished, the church embarked upon the establishment of an Early Learning Center. “Once that is accomplished,” he said, “we want to start a Christian school.”

In fact, Pastor Stump’s two major goals for the next ten years are launching a Christian school and a counseling center. Additionally, he wants to expand all the current ministries—worship, Sunday School and small groups—to touch people’s lives and benefit the community, not just the church.

“We have to adopt the mindset that there is no distance that we can’t go with the gospel of Christ,” Pastor Stump said.  “A walk down our missions hallway is evidence of that as we have people ministering in countries throughout the world.

“We must minister to Central West Virginia, not just Braxton County,” he asserted. “We have become somewhat of a regional ministry, and I believe that pleases God.”

Pastor Stump’s 42-year ministry continues to be guided by Psalm 78:72: “So He fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”

“Two things that verse says: If you’re going to lead, you have to maintain your integrity, and you have to keep growing personally,” Pastor Stump said.

Another scripture that has defined his ministry is Matthew 20:28: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” “The concept of servant leadership is the purest example of Christ Himself,” he said.

Despite the challenges presented by his own health issues, Pastor Stump remains dedicated to his church and his ministry. “The place that I’m most alive is in the pulpit,” he said. “God energizes me for that time. When he told Paul that, ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), it has been sufficient for me too.”

Speaking on behalf of the GBC congregation, Dittman joyfully extends a heartfelt invitation to the community for this momentous celebration. “As we gather together,” she said, “let us heed the timeless wisdom of Psalm 100:4-5: ‘Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good, and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.’

“We hope to see you here April 21,” concluded a spokesperson.