Upon entering Union Missionary Baptist Church, you could already hear the joyous singing bursting out from the sanctuary. There were several male vocalists leading the songs, accompanied by a talented organist and drummer. After singing “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”, a bold, young man lead us in prayer repeating that “through it all, God’s hand doesn’t change”. He poured himself into this prayer, thanking God and proclaiming the need for God in his life. As I “Church Journey” to such a diverse population of churches, I see that God’s hand doesn’t change. We all need God as we stand together upon his unwavering promises. As we sang, “I Give Myself Away”, there was an overwhelming sense of God’s love surrounding me.
These inner-city, urban churches always go all out to make sure their guests are recognized and welcomed. We were invited to stand and introduce ourselves. The sea of warm smiles gave me a comfort and peace in being there. Prayer was then offered for all who wanted it, and there was a special prayer said for the recent string of shootings in Albany. The next segment of the service was called “Ministry Moments” where they recognized two recent graduates, Ian and Xavier, awarding each of them with the “Reverend Louise C. Brewer Memorial Scholarship”. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Two large portraits stood proudly at the altar … one the late Rev. Louise C. Brewer and the other one his beloved wife. Several members spoke about Rev. Brewer, the former pastor at Union Missionary Baptist Church for 38 years. They each shared about his contributions to the church and his strong emphasis on teaching and education. As they honored their forefather in the faith, they encouraged these two young men and we prayed for them as they embark upon a new season in their lives. Feeling so much a part of the family at Union Missionary, I applauded these young men and shared in the excitement with the congregation.
Rev. Victor Covington was seated on the platform as he invited Minister Richard McGee to deliver what was to be one of the most heartfelt messages I have ever heard. People who are forgiven much, love much, and this love came shining forth through this man’s sermon. Minister McGee couldn’t begin without singing a song that was welling up inside of him. We all joined in and sang the old African American gospel favorite, “We’ve Come This Far by Faith”. His message was given the powerful title, “God did not pay full price for half a Christian”. Though he was preaching to us, it was apparent he was also preaching to himself. As if God Himself were speaking to him, he said, “RICK, I didn’t pay full price for half of your praise! I didn’t pay full price for half devotion!” When we are in love with God, we want all He has and we long to be in His will. We need to search our hearts and ask ourselves what our motivation is. Is it so we can shine or is it so God can shine through us? Minister “Rick” McGee, with tears streaming down his face, cried out, “He paid a debt He did not owe and paid a debt we couldn’t pay”. In closing, he exclaimed once again, “God did not pay full price for half a Christian”. There was no shallow preaching in the House of the Lord today. There was no doubt that this man knew the Lord intimately!
In closing, Rev. Covington shared a few words and said something quite profound … “We want to be seated under people who really know Jesus, not just know about Him”. He then concluded with a benediction followed by a congregational Amen put to a melody. After the service, Rev. Covington took the time out of his busy schedule to meet with me. Knock after knock, he greeted each “interruption” as important. It was apparent that he valued the people there, as well as visitors like myself. A true Shephard’s heart!
Union Missionary Baptist Church meets on Sundays at 8 am and again at 11 am. They have street ministry every Wednesday, 10:30 am until noon. They have a Saturday morning nursing home outreach as well. They place a strong emphasis on Christian education, offering a variety of classes throughout the year. Today I was blessed to witness two young men receive scholarships to further their education, a testament of Union Missionary’s dedication to helping our young people become all they can be.
This church certainly doesn’t give half of their praises to God. They don’t give half of themselves unto prayer. And they don’t give half when it comes to honoring people and helping them succeed. Since 1924, Union Missionary Baptist Church has been giving their all to the Lord and to others. Because they know that God did not pay FULL price for HALF a church!
Church Website – www.unionbaptistalbany.com
By Donna Hansen Munafo