Longview Baptist to celebrate with open house on Sunday
Two years ago, it was discovered that hungry termites were slowly destroying the 106-year-old Longview Baptist Church structure at 101 Cooper Road. In this new year, the Rev. Jonathan Osterhaus says there are a multitude of silver linings, like the open house celebration coming up Sunday for the new worship center.
The community is invited to attend Sunday school at 9:30 a.m. and worship at 10:45 a.m., with a meal to follow in the new fellowship hall. Open house festivities will be held from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
"It was very difficult to watch the building torn down, but our faith does not rest in a building but in God's promises," the pastor said. "Romans 8:28 says 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.'"
Osterhaus says that out of the ashes comes Sunday's celebration -- one filled with excitement and hope for the next 100 years.
He said hope is found "in the loving promises of God's Word and the Salvation through His Son King Jesus!" and he said that is the church's true cornerstone, regardless of its construction.
Due to extensive termite damage to the wood, the church moved two years ago to demolish the aging structure. It's amazing the damage a termite can do to a little wooden church, said Osterhaus.
"The damages extended as high as 28 feet into the bell tower," he recalls.
So the church began to look toward the future and hold dear the past.
Through hard economic times and good times, people ranging farmers to politicians have called Longview their place of worship. For Osterhaus himself, Longview Baptist is the only church he's ever pastored. He says God called him to serve the church at a tender time in the life of the congregation.
"I am a pastor's son and ran from the Lord until I was 29. God put me on my back, literally, and 13 surgeries later, got me out of a wheelchair and called me into the ministry in the process. I am so thankful God placed me in a church where King Jesus is the passion and worshipping our awesome God is the central focus."
Osterhaus has now been at the church for 10 years. So for him, it's been a sentimental journey building the new church. He watched with church members as the walls came tumbling down, piece by piece.
Watching the demolition of the antique church building-one filled with decades of memories from baptisms, weddings, fellowship meals, singings and even funerals -- was a tough time for all, but he said that through all of the demolition and construction, church members kept the faith and the spirit needed to get the job completed.
Approximately 100 attended a ground breaking last fall. The pastor says at that time, they offered thanks for the blessings to come in 2020.
Osterhaus said members have since patiently waited as new walls came up on the new structure, amidst all the rain, over the last year. Worship was held in an adjacent building during construction.
Resting along the new hallways are constant reminders, he explains, that God does provide for the faithful. The new building now houses items like a handmade violin, bowls of various types, a dining room table, pens and more, all repurposed from some of the good oak wood salvaged from the original structure.
Osterhaus believes these items are merely symbols, but those which will forever represent the memories of the God that Longview Baptist serves. It also tells the stories of the men and women who worshipped there and pastors who served from 1913-2018.
"At Longview Baptist Church," said Osterhaus, "we are made up of people from all backgrounds, regardless of where they are on their spiritual journey. We are a life-giving, multicultural church in rural Bedford County, Tennessee. We are committed to the person of Jesus Christ and we base all our teachings upon the Bible, God's Holy and Inerrant Word.
"Together, we're striving to become the kind of church described in the Bible."
Photos of the present congregation -- old and very young -- line the church's social media page. So what does the next 100 years hold for this congregation?
"In short," said Osterhaus, "we'd like to have the kind of contagious Christianity that can influence and encourage the entire community and world, one life at a time."