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It was Father’s Day on Sunday, and fathers got at least three rounds of shouts and applause at Bayview Baptist Church — grandfathers and great-grandfathers, too. (At least five of the latter were in attendance.) “This is the day that the Lord has made,” said Pastor Winters, “and this is our day, in the sense that the Lord is still calling fathers to be fathers.”

“Amen, yes!” came the responses from the congregation.

“Like this bad dude over here in the Bible who said, ‘As for me...’”

“Uh-huh — that’s right!”

“His name was Joshua, and he said, ‘As for me and my house, we gonna serve the Lord!’”

But the bigger deal could be read on the front of the many black T-shirts strewn among the Sunday finery of hats and dresses: NuGen Ministry; Happy 35th Anniversary Pastor & Sister Winters; June 15, 2008. (NuGen was an outreach to “the smartest generation we’ve ever produced — the only problem is, a lot of them don’t know God. We’ve got a great history and heritage we need to pass on.” The slogan on the back of the shirts: “I wish I had a hot church...up in here!”) “The third Sunday in June,” recalled Winters, “was the day I preached my first sermon at the Bayview Church. ‘You have traveled around this mountain...’”

The congregation finished: “Long enough!”

“‘...turn you north.’ That was the text. Some of y’all ain’t turned yet! I was young and handsome, and I still had all my hair. Look what Bayview did to me!”

Much laughter followed, but there was maybe some truth behind the joke. Before the offering, the NuGen singers sang, “If I can make it, I know that you can, you can” (a more complicated arrangement than the Praise Team call-and-response anthems that opened the service — “I Will Praise Him,” “I Feel the Presence of the Lord in the Room”). “I need to hear that,” commented Winters. “How many of you need to hear that? I’m gonna help you make it, and you help me make it, and we’re going to make it.”

The offering had been moved into the middle of the service, “to remind us of how critical offering is in worship. We worship You with these gifts. This is the biggest financial crunch in our young experience...but let’s not forget that God is still presiding — even over our financial status. God is tougher than tough times. The first thing you want to cut back on is God, but keep Him in focus as the presider over your financial affairs.” (“Don’t forget to remember where all your blessings come from,” sang the NuGen singers.)

“We’ve been hit really hard,” continued Winters. “We’re about 35 percent off of what we normally receive.” Winters encouraged carpooling to church; he encouraged extra donations and more consistent giving. He prayed for those afflicted by economic trouble and even planned to host a Wednesday-night presentation on an in-home telemarketing business. “I’m skeptical,” he assured the congregation, “but we can’t just sit back and do nothing. God is in our midst; we know what You can do. Confirm for somebody today that You are in charge of their financial affairs.”

The Reverend Terry Brooks took up the theme of a church in tribulation in his sermon: “The Church with a Blank Check.” He read from Revelation 3 — a message to the church in Philadelphia, which had used what little strength it had and had remained faithful. “He says, ‘I have set before you an open door.’ He’s giving us access to unlimited possibilities, and I can encourage my pastor with the same words that Jesus wrote to the church in Philadelphia.... Whenever a man of God steps out in faith, it’s the job of the enemy to make him think he’s made a mistake.... But, thank God we have a man of God that has stick-with-it-ness! Just because you haven’t arrived does not mean you’re not on your way! You’ve got to have faith to walk when you can’t see your way! I thank God for a pastor who can say, ‘Even when you’re taking the heat, don’t let God take a back seat!’ He said, ‘I will make you a pillar!’ Long after we’re all gone, they’ll still be speaking the name of Timothy J. Winters!” Again and again, Brooks’s preaching rose to a crescendo; again and again, the shouts from the congregation drowned him out: “All right, all right!” “That’s good!” “Come on!”

What happens when we die?

“According to the Scriptures,” said Winters, “we who have accepted Christ as our savior are taken to be with the Lord — absent from the body, present with the Lord — to await the resurrection. Unbelievers, the Scripture says, go to a place called Hades. After the judgment, their final resting place is called the Lake of Fire.”

Bayview Baptist Church
Denomination: National Baptist
Address: 6134 Benson Avenue, Encanto, 619-263-9463
Founded locally: 1963
Senior pastor: Timothy J. Winters
Congregation size: 2500
Staff size: about 30
Sunday school enrollment: about 200
Annual budget: n/a
Weekly giving: n/a
Singles program: yes
Dress: some casual, mostly semiformal to formal
Diversity: mostly African American
Length of reviewed service: 2 hours
Website: bayviewbc.org

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