(a compilation of Charlie Burr’s and Bro. Paul, 2009)
March 19, 1989 was the last Sunday for a group of people at First Baptist Church of Bonne Terre. On March 26 Easter Sunday some of the people went to FBC of East Bonne Terre, others went to other churches. On Tuesday night March 28, 1989 they had a prayer meeting at Bob & Bobbie Price’s house while Bob Price, Mickey Caughron and Gary Showmaker met at First Baptist church with Orville Sikes and Dean Moak. On Wednesday night March 29 they held another prayer meeting at Bob & Bobbie’s. Joe Bollinger told them there was a storefront in the Bonneville Plaza that could be rented and it had folding chairs that could be used.
On Saturday April 1, 1989 they cleaned the building moved in the chairs and Kent and Vickie Brown moved in an organ. Mitchell Baptist church loaned us a pulpit and some song books.
On Sunday April 2, 1989 the first service was held in the storefront. There were 75 people in the morning service with 12 visitors. Allen Francis led the music and preached the first message. Pearl Burr played the organ and Bob Price led the service. On April 9, 1989 the cross (that Charlie built) was put up for our second service. We had 84 in attendance with 21 visitors. The third Sunday April 16, 1989 we elected a clerk and had a business meeting. A motion was made to call the church Sonrise Baptist and our motto was “A church with an open door and a loving spirit”. A motion was made that we affiliate with the Southern Baptist and Missouri Baptist conventions and the Mineral Area Baptist Association. On April 30, 1989 there was a business meeting and a motion was made to appoint Sunday School teachers and buy literature.
On May 7, 1989 a motion was made to call Bro. Paul Pope as interim pastor. Motion carried 100%. There was a lot of business to carry out such as renting another store front for Sunday school space, we looked at the possibility of buying a church building in Bonne Terre, began working on a constitution, filing incorporation papers with the state. We began giving 10% to the Cooperative program and 3% to the Association. On June 4, 1989 we formed a long range planning and building committee. July 12, 1989 a motion was made to call Bro. Paul Pope as our permanent Pastor. The morning service of July 27, 1989 Katie Wallace said our pastor needs a pulpit and offered to give money for the material if someone could build it. Charlie Burr said “I can build it”. Monday morning July 28th Charlie went to Holekamps got the material and on Wednesday night July 30th Charlie delivered the pulpit to church and Bro. Paul had a pulpit to preach from. On August 3, 1989 Bro. Gene Spurgeon painted the windows at the storefront with Sonrise Baptist Church a sunrise and a hill with three crosses. We soon decided we would look for property on Highway 67 with good visibility from the road. We were contacted by Sonny McDowell about acreage he had available. We looked at it and purchased 4 acres for $29,000.00. In September we had prayer on the property. On February 14, 1990 we installed a sign on the 4 acres “Future home of Sonrise Baptist Church”. We paid the property off after 2 ½ years and began to plan for our new building.
From April 2, 1989 to April 5, 1992 we had a lot of wonderful services. God blessed and moved in marvelous ways. We had many fellowship meals, lots of remarks about the green carpet. One business meeting we voted for Bro. Paul to buy 10 of the brown cushion stacking chairs and he came back with 55 chairs and hoped they would approve 45 more at the next business meeting. Charlie Burr would come up every week and straighten out the chairs. Charlie liked to tell the story of one of our fellowship meals where somebody cut the meatloaf pieces so big we ran out of meatloaf and made about 3 trips to Hardees for chicken, Charlie said it would have been better and easier if we would have all gone to Hardees in the first place.
On January 8, 1992 a motion was made to accept Jamie Bess’ bid on the new building of $150,000.00. On January 19, 1992 we had our groundbreaking ceremony at the property. On January 20, 1992 they began digging the foundation and construction was underway. Charlie Burr was watching over the work as he daily came took pictures and gave advice.
On March 29, 1992 we had our last services at the storefront. It was a sad but also sweet time. On April 5, 1992 we had our first services in our new building. Shortly after Linda Burr painted the picture for our baptistery, Ron Petty built the prayer alters and the Lord’s supper table. We had our first Homecoming service April 1993. We also hosted the Associational Annual meeting at our new facilities in September 1993.
At our first Homecoming service we had Bro. George Ormsby preaching and the Mills family for the music.
In the August business meeting of 1993 the church voted to call Bro. Paul Pope as full time pastor beginning Sept. 1, 1993.
April 9, 1995 we had our second homecoming with the Royal Heirs singing and Dave Million preaching.
April 13, 1997 we had Safe harbor for music and Mink Ferguson for preaching.
April 19, 1998 Homecoming featured the Wallen family singing and Glen Wright preaching.
May 6, 2001 we celebrated our 12th Anniversary with in house special music and testimony time and fellowship meal.
On December 1, 2002 we had a special business meeting to sponsor a church plant in Park Hills or Farmington area. It would be a more contemporary church then what we have in our area now. We voted 39 for and 17 against. On January 8, 2003 we voted to give $5000.00 to the new church plant out of our budget. That work came to be known as “The Heartland Family Church”. We also voted in 2003 to send our youth on a World Changers Mission Trip raising almost $11,000.00. In February and March of 2003 we had our long range building committee looking at plans for a multi-purpose building to connect to our existing building. In our April 9, 2003 business meeting the preliminary drawings for the multi-purpose building was presented. We knew that the state was going to buy our land for the proposed over/under pass to 67 highway but they were dragging their feet and we needed the space. We decided we would write MODOT a letter asking them for an early buy out so we could build our new building on a new site. The first letter they responded that they did not have the funds to purchase the property at this time. Bro Paul attended some MODOT meetings and took the drawings. When the state saw what we were planning to build Tim Richardson from MODOT suggested that we may just have to build on our present property and it would just cost them more to but us out later. But, Bro. Paul sent one more letter explaining our situation and we received a letter back telling us they found some funds they could use to do an early buy out. They hired an outside appraiser and on May 2, 2004 we had a special business meeting to vote on their offer of $731,600.00 and they would give us $20,000.00 moving expenses for a total of $751,600.00. We voted to settle with the state! At that same meeting we voted to buy ten acres on Berry road for $146,000.00. The state allowed us to remain in our building rent free for the nine months we were in the construction of our new building. We held our Dedication and groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 12, 2004.
We contracted with Jamie Bess Construction to erect all of the steel structure and metal building and Thurston Construction to do the interior and exterior on the Worship center, educational center and multi-purpose building. Bro. Paul was general contractor for the remainder to get bids: electrical was done by McDowell Electric, plumbing by Craig Wofford, and Heating and cooling by Crystal City Heating and Cooling. Concrete of interior foundations and flat work was done by Charlie Murphy Construction and outside concrete done by Bro. Paul and Craig Pope. Asphalt by Bauman Paving of Bloomsdale.
Darren Thurston and his men worked for time and material which was a wonderful savings for the church. When the insurance company appraised it for replacement costs the appraisal was for 2.8 million dollars. We had borrowed a total of $440,000.00. God is so Good! We moved into our new building in July 2005 and closed on the loan in Feb. 2006. We now have 27,500 sq. ft of building at a cost of about $35 per square ft and that includes building and furnishings.
In the 20 years:
We have had 264 join by letter, 177 by baptism, and 40 by statement or profession of faith for a total of 481. We have had 18 deaths, we have 15 non-resident and 185 have moved their letter. 130 were dropped for non attendance leaving us with clean rolls of 133.
Every year we do our Easter egg hunt that draws in about 100 people (kids, parents, grandparents) each year. In addition we try each year to have an Operation Share where we open our facilities and have clothing, household products, toys, decorations etc. to give away to anyone in need in our community. We average 150 – 200 people each year that come through that we get witness to and give out tracts to. The last several years we host the food distribution at Christmas time for the Ministerial Alliance, we give out 150 – 200 food boxes each year. This past year we also hosted a meal along with giving out gift boxes. Each person receives a gospel tract and a handshake telling them Jesus loves them. We host quarterly blood drives for the Red Cross. We have done that for about 6 -7 years. On Monday night the Weight Watchers meet in our facility. We have also hosted the Foster/Adoptive parents training meetings, gym parties, fellowships. Our educational facilities have served the Association for VBS clinics for several years now. The last two years have seen 22 children come to know Christ as their personal Savior. We have been a major part of bringing World Changers to the Mineral Area. Craig & Jami Pope and our youth went on four World Changers trips and then thought “why can’t we do that here in our community?” Craig applied with the North American Mission Board/World Changers and Bonne Terre was accepted as a 2008 site. Craig was the Associational coordinator. Our church and the Association got behind the ministry. There were more churches and people involved in the ministry and missions then in the history of our Association. 2009 was just as successful with 12 homes being roofed and 10 receiving siding or painting. There were 297 youth from around the United States and many of the youth from our local churches helped in many other ways.
All of the above mentioned activities are done to make our church a visible witness in meeting the needs of our community. We are sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those around us. I can’t tell you how many time I have had people come up to me and say “you’re the pastor of Sonrise Baptist aren’t you?” then they say “your church really ministered to my kids” or “my son and his wife were going through a ruff time and when they needed help they came to that Operation Share and found everything they needed.” I have heard it over and over. I have had people say “you don’t know what that food box meant at Christmas for my mother or brother or family. Thanks for being there”. People come up to me and thank us and tell me they would rather come here to give blood then anywhere else because the ladies serve the best food here.
Recently it has been “thanks for bringing World Changers to our area; I can’t believe how good a job they did on my parent’s house.”
People at St. Joe Manor tell me they really enjoy when we come to do the service because our people seem to really care about the residence.
I know we sometimes wonder if we are making a difference but the truth is that only eternity will reveal the lives that have been touched. That is a small sample of the 20 years of Sonrise Baptist Church. What great things does God have in store for the next 20 years if He tarries?