Once I retired from fulltime pastoring, Sandy and I spent the next five years searching for a church home. We visited practically every denomination in Gwinnett County, but none felt like home.

Loosely quoting Homer from the Simpsons, “All the problems and solutions in church are its people.”

One might ask, “Why did you join Smoke Rise Baptist Church”?

Some of the obvious answers might be:

  • The facilities are magnificent and well maintained.
  • The worship services are simply amazing – inspirational, well-planned and executed. Every Sunday “the presence of the Lord is surely in this place.”
  • The SRBC Sanctuary Choir is easily one of the best in the state.
  • The sermons, prayers and reflections are moving, challenging and well-organized.
  • SRBC is also affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an organization to which we belonged for many years before becoming a part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Those characteristics we found that mattered most to us personally are:

  • SRBC is a mature congregation (with which we proudly identify). It is an inspiration, not an obstacle to see folks pushing on, being active and attentive.
  • There is an infectious smile with direct eye contact from nearly everyone.  
  • Sunday school is well organized and a key part of SRBC, with people who are truly committed to learning and forming a serious community. The question was never, “Have you tried a Sunday school class, but which Sunday school have you decided to join?” As we visited, we heard many discuss their faith journeys, struggles and joys.
  • A very busy pastor willing to take time for a shared meal is exceptional in larger churches.
  • Wednesday night dinners, where people sincerely say, “Come sit here; let’s get to know each other,” makes newcomers feel welcomed.
  • It’s so nice for people to know our names.
  • The monthly worship and study offered to five of our local assisted living facilities are encouraging.
  • There is a marvelous Men’s Disaster Relief Team willing to travel to Kentucky and beyond to spend weeks helping those in need.
  • The list goes on….

We want more than just to fit in; we want to belong. Fitting in is about becoming what we need to be accepted. Belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are, but requires us simply to be who we are.

We’ve found that the people of SRBC are indeed a community of believers who take the call of Christ seriously and seek the Kingdom from within.  Quoting Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

The power of our church is knowing that our community takes seriously the reality and presence of God’s grace and forgiveness in the world.

It’s good to be Home!  Sandy and I are blessed to call Smoke Rise family!

– Jay White, SRBC Member since August 2022

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