If you were a first time visitor and had no idea what to expect, from the moment you walked in the front door you were greeted not once, but at least four times by different members – each one stationed strategically to ensure you were welcomed and knew where to go. Bright, genuine smiles coupled with warm handshakes, or friendly hugs were waiting for you to receive, each different, yet the same with the singular goal to make you feel welcome in their “home”. The music inside the sanctuary crisp with the professional sound of a live band, rhythms that were infectious, almost daring you not to tap your foot or clap and then, you heard the choir raise their voices in praise. Immediately, you knew this was going to be more than just the eleven o’clock service; it was indeed going to be a celebration.
Guest speaker Rev. Carl E. Jones Sr., of Greater Parkview Church in Greenburg, Pennsylvania, had been here on another occasion and was welcomed back with enthusiastic applause and amen’s. Pastor Jones’ introduction was brief, but clearly, he was known by reputation as a preacher who would bring a message they needed to hear. His sermon on Prayer and Relationship with God covered every possible age group; you could be a six year old or be a nonagenarian and understand. Every now and again, he would put some slang in there to capture the teenagers in the congregation too. He made sure that in between the hundred dollar words of an educated man, he kept it plain and simple. His focus ensured that no one was left out in getting the message that he came to deliver. It was inspiring, moving and he reminded the congregation that the Pastor needs prayers said for him too. The Mime Ministry performed to “Will Your Heart and Soul Say Yes” and the continual and modulating pitch of the song matched the enthusiasm of the performance. Had you not looked at the program or it been mentioned, no one would have guessed they were supposed to perform in the beginning; instead it seemed to work beautifully after the sermon, almost as if planned that way.
The anniversary gifts to Bishop and Co-Pastor Patterson were presented by the chairpersons of the Deacon and Deaconess Boards and, without any doubt, the congregation of FBCS loves the Pattersons. Bishop and Co-Pastor Patterson were celebrating 17 years of service to FBCS, and, as he noted in his brief remarks after the gift presentation, it has seemed like only a very few years, hardly 17 had gone by. Bishop Patterson reminded the congregation they were invited to lunch in the fellowship hall after service, and visitors were more than welcome to attend, there was plenty for all to enjoy.
The gymnasium was transformed into a banquet hall fit for a wedding reception seating 200 guests comfortably. The tables seated eight each and were draped in white linen with beautiful lavender and miniature gold filigree overlays, complemented by gold Chivari chairs with ivory cushions. The room walls covered with bright white and interspersed with columns of purple drape, miniature white lights behind the door drapes and the VIP corner coupled with beautifully appointed centerpieces of white and purple florals, flowing crystals and votives on gold branch holders. The Music Ministry provided live background music during the meal and the buffet of food that included many homemade dishes like ham, turkey, chicken, green beans, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, meatballs, cabbage, spaghetti and much more was a sight to behold. Desserts included banana pudding, pound cake, cookies and pies. The food had been deliciously prepared by the members of the church in celebration of the anniversary
Indeed, if you were a first time visitor at First Baptist Church of Sterling, you would be inclined to return. Not just because of the food, they serve brunch in between the eight o’clock and eleven o’clock services; not just because of the music, they have a band that includes drums, bass, organ and piano; choirs that sound like they just came off a road tour, but also because of the warmth and friendliness of each person, you encountered.
This was a place that lived their motto – the church where everybody is somebody. If you’re looking for a place to interact with everyone not just a few, where it doesn’t matter what color you are, where you are from, this is the place for which you have been seeking. This is where there is a celebration each week and it is filled with peace, love and blessings for all who find their way through the doors.
For more information on First Baptist Church of Sterling, visit them on the web at www.fbcsterlingva.org