A New Beginnning

Masonville Baptist Church closed its doors for the final time last Sunday.

With Sunday attendance averaging between 20 to 30 people, in addition to the church having recently lost its pastor, the membership was facing a daunting financial road ahead.

“There are several founding members and longtime members that have passed away in the last couple of years, then the pastor we had left, then COVID, so it’s been hard ever since then to get traction for people to come back or to get new people because (we had) a new pastor,” said Laura Seaman, the church’s children’s director. “So we were looking at having to hire a new pastor and making some repairs to the property, and it looked like something that was not going to be sustainable with 20 people coming on Sundays.”

But the church’s building, established in 1957, didn’t sit empty for long. Several members of Abundant Life Baptist Church were already working Monday to prepare the facility for its rechristening Sunday.

“In their gracious kindness, they want a church to be here, and they have this wonderful building, so they just made the offer, ‘Would we like to come and take care of the building and grounds and have your worship here,” said Farrell Isenberg, Abundant Life’s transitional pastor.

Nathan Whisnant, associational mission strategist for the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association, a support organization for Southern Baptist churches, facilitated the handover, which was set in motion while he was filling in as pastor for Masonville Baptist Church around Easter. He began conversations with the deacons at about forming a search committee to find a new pastor, and they led to bigger conversations.

“We were looking to get an interim pastor, and they got to talking about our situation and what we should do and Nathan said he knew of a church looking for a building,” Seaman said. “So this opportunity came up with Abundant Life, and the membership thought this would be the best choice.

“There will be several people from Masonville who will stick around and serve at Abundant Life.”

For Abundant Life, the timing was perfect.

Formed about six months ago by five families who felt called to start a new church, Abundant Life has been meeting in a warehouse at 1010 Allen St. it leased from the Issac Sterrett Foundation. The facility was only available to the church on Sundays and Wednesdays, which had led to its membership starting to look for a new facility.

“We had conversations with the deacons here and trustees and Nathan, and that led to a meeting with their leadership and our leadership and a conversation, and that led to them proposing to the congregation that they give us the building and grounds,” Isenberg said. “Our church voted unanimously yes, with humble hearts.”

Abundant Life has experienced exceptional growth since its formation, averaging around 280 people for Sunday service. It had more than 300 people in attendance on Easter.

“We’re in the midst of applying to the local (Baptist) association for membership, as well as the Kentucky Baptist Convention for membership,” Isenberg said. “Each one requires some different things and takes a little time to process out, but that’s what we’re working toward.”

Isenberg said he’s excited about the church’s location on Highway 231, which he believes positions it for continued growth.

“According to the Southern Baptist Convention, if they were to plant a church in Daviess County, this is one of the areas they would plant one,” Isenberg said. “Masonville is the fastest growing area in Kentucky; has grown 7.5% annually for last two to three years. So we see this as a huge opportunity for growth with a lot of families around. The Deer Valley subdivision is huge, and up and down the streets of Masonville you have homes and other complexes, so we feel like there are lots of people here who can be reached, and we hope they come.

“We have open arms and a big smile.”

Isenberg, who retired as pastor of Crosspointe Baptist Church after 30 years, said he’ll be glad to continue serving as Abundant Life’s pastor as long as he’s needed.

“I had no idea all of this would happen,” he said. “We’re not really in the (pastor) search mode. Lots of things are happening that we have to put our attention to, so it’s not a top priority at this point.”

The church will open Sunday for “Coffee Time” at 8:30 a.m., with Sunday school at 9 a.m. and the church service at 10:15 a.m.

Stan Fister, who attended Masonville Baptist Church for 65 years, was at the church Monday helping with the transition. He said the membership realized the transition was best for everyone.

“At first it was called a merge, but it’s not a merge,” Fister said. “We understood they had their own identity, but they’re Southern Baptist, and something had to happen. We were praying for our attendance to come back, but you get that tunnel vision, and then here comes an idea of 200-plus people coming right in.

“So, OK God.”