By Lance Hickey
Marshall – Since the early part of 2018, I have had the opportunity to personally attend churches in North Buncombe and Madison counties in our new Where We Worship series, presenting readers in the community a unique glimpse into a multitude of religious organizations throughout the area.
The places of worship we have covered so far encompassed many different belief systems, expressions of worship and presentation styles. Each worship experience covered in 2018 proved to be unique, welcoming and inclusive. The presentation styles during services also varied tremendously. From contemporary rock-style services to more traditional worship experiences, each service had its own presentational flair.
The final church I attended in 2018 for Where We Worship was no different. I attended Beacon Baptist Church in Marshall on December 30.
Established in October of 2015, Beacon Baptist Church, an independent Baptist community, first opened services in rental space in Stoney Knob Commons in the South Weaverville area. The church found its current home in Marshall in June of 2016, relocating to Marshall to better serve a majority of its members.
Founder and Pastor Aaron Crawford has led the church since its inception. A graduate of both West Coast Baptist College and Pensacola Christian College, Crawford served as a youth pastor at a church in Asheville prior to establishing Beacon Baptist. Married to wife, Kerrie, who he met in college in Pensacola, the Crawford’s have two children.
Nestled off of U.S. Highway 25, moments from Madison High School, Beacon Baptist Church sits in a building formerly held by Madison Pharmacy. A large sign donning the church’s name hangs in the parking area of the stone-faced property. A gray rocking chair sits underneath a red awning encompassing the front of the building, offering parishioners a welcoming ambiance as they enter the worship center.
As I entered the sanctuary, I was greeted by several congregants while being handed a church bulletin and a small informational packet giving insight into the church. Service began at 11am following the church’s 10am Sunday School.
The piano began to play as the congregants headed toward their seats. Ronnie Crawford, pastor Crawford’s father, stepped forward to welcome the congregation, saying an opening prayer.
The church then began to sing a congregational hymn titled “O How I Love Jesus” as parishioners passionately joined in the chorus. The church followed by singing another hymn called “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” before the church sat. Pastor Aaron Crawford, standing at stage left, then stepped forward to communicate the church announcements prior to the church’s weekly offering as the church pianist played.
Reverend Crawford, dressed in his Sunday best in a lively navy-blue suit with a pink and black striped tie, transitioned the service into the final hymn of the morning called “At the Cross.”
The congregation then took their seats on the walnut-stained pews as they prepared for Reverend Crawford to deliver his sermon. It was “Vision Sunday.” Crawford began to communicate the vision of the church for 2019, highlighting the congregation’s desire to witness to those in the community. He followed by speaking fervently about the importance of building a foundation of Biblical literacy and intimacy with God.
As Reverend Crawford’s message came to a close, he said a prayer, giving an invitation for those who needed prayer. Service was dismissed.
Beacon Baptist Church was traditional in its presentation. The congregation, some robed in their Sunday finest, some garbed in blue jeans, proved to be another highly enthusiastic, inviting and mission-based church community.
In 2018 in our Where We Worship series we explored many churches, religious organizations and worship experiences. In 2019, in Where We Worship, we look forward to continuing our quest to uncover many more of the places of worship many in our community call home, and how these organizations specifically impact the community. It’s organizations like these that continue to prove to be invaluable to many in our community.