PALMETTO -- Jeremiah 29:11 states: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
The verse fittingly describes the 12-year journey of minister Tom Green and his parishioners leading to a March 5 ground-breaking ceremony for the new permanent home to the East Palmetto Church of Christ. It's a place where you will find a no-nonsense approach to the gospel with all of the humility of being flawed Christians.
"Our motto is that we stand on God's extended word," said Green. "It's pure gospel and nothing but the gospel and giving all glory to God. Our job is to reach out to the community with the word and to welcome everybody."
Green's humility is sincere even in his title as minister. He said he refuses to own a label of authority
such as "Reverend."
"I know that might offend some people," said Green. "But I'm just a messenger of God and there is only one in reverence and that is God. The Bible doesn't refer to messengers like Paul as Reverend Paul. No, he was brother Paul.
"The church website is distinct in saying members are 'Christians.' We want to be no less than Christians and no more than Christians."
At the East Palmetto Church of Christ, the congregation believes there is only one authority in church -- God.
"If we do some things that seem unusual from the average church, it is only because our investigation into the nature and character of the early church of Jesus Christ has led us to our conclusions and convictions," Green said.
Green said the church is not perfect, nor is any man before God.
"Hopefully, we will have the honesty to examine ourselves, our beliefs and our practices continually to make sure that we are truly imitating the pattern of the New Testament," Green said. "We do not consider ourselves to be morally superior to others. We are simply believers in Jesus, Christians, who are trying to live according to the teachings of Jesus."
The church first met April 27, 2003, at Blackburn Elementary School. Green said 22 parishioners attended the first service and the congregation has since grown to 110 full-time members.
In 2005, services were moved to James Tillman Elementary, 1415 29th St. E., where they will be held until the new church is completed this summer. Sunday Bible studies begin at 9 a.m. with worship beginning at 9:45 a.m.
Bible studies also are offered every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Les Brown, finance director, said the church purchased 2 acres at 1608 28th St. Court E. in 2009 and has been patiently awaiting for "this blessed day."
Don Rowe & Associates is general contractor on the project financed by First America Bank for $750,000. The concrete building will be big enough to sit 125 people, Brown said, with the anticipation of expanding seating one day.
"We're ecstatic about this day although it will take a few months to complete," said Green. "God has carried us through this."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter @urbanmark2014.