Pastor Keith Marlin
Smithville Baptist Church held a dedication service for its new building on Jan. 7, culminating a process that began more than 15 years ago.
Church members, family members, community members and many other guests attended the dedication of the 10,000 square foot building that includes the worship center and educational space. A worship service was held that celebrated the countless provisions from the Lord that allowed the building to be constructed—and to be completed debt-free.
The church established a building fund for a new facility in 2006, under the leadership of Pastor Keith Marlin. In July 2009, Marlin was called to pastor another church, where he remained until retiring in 2017. Smithville was searching for a pastor and asked Marlin to supply preach, then he eventually agreed to return as pastor “to continue the vision from the first time,” Marlin said, which included building a new facility.
The church purchased property for the new building in 2010, then approved architectural plans in 2013. They also decided in 2013 to designate one Sunday morning offering each month for the building fund. The faithful giving of the church led to plans being made to begin construction in the summer of 2020, but the global pandemic postponed the work.
The postponement also brought an increase in the price of materials, but the church pushed forward, and the building was erected in June 2021 by the Carpenters for Christ group from Montgomery, Alabama. Later that summer, a group from Winston Baptist Association in Alabama installed the drywall. The construction was far from over, but so were God’s provisions.
The members of the church used their skills. Church member Roy Christopher served as the building superintendent for the project. While not a carpenter by trade, Marlin says that Christopher, “has been something special. He can do it all.” Coy Slusser, a home contractor in the area, also retired and began to offer his skills. The pastor notes that other churches in the Black River Association and individuals in the community also provided labor, while many others provided meals for those who were volunteering.
Once the structure was complete, God continued to provide for the furnishings. According to Marlin, one man was traveling through the area and stopped at the church. He asked where they were on the progress of the project, to which Marlin answered that they were at the point of needing pews, which would cost $45,000. Marlin watched in amazement as the man “took out his checkbook and wrote a check for the total cost of the pews.” A similar encounter led to the purchase of the sound system.
The first service was held in the new building on March 20, 2022, which included four baptisms in the new building. Three others have since been baptized. Marlin noted that the church continues to have guests each week.
Throughout the process of planning, giving, and constructing, Smithville Baptist Church continued to minister locally and continued to give faithfully to missions through the Cooperative Program. As needs arose, God consistently provided in His timing.
As he reflected upon the work, Marlin commented, “It is a God thing that you can put a building of this size in a town with a population of 83, debt-free. If God can do this in a town this size, why can’t He do it anywhere else? This has been an experience I will never forget and am grateful to be part of it.”