published Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Cooper: New Church organizes at Wally’s Restaurant in East Ridge

The end, said Angela Gann, is coming soon. How soon, she’s not sure.

In the meantime, the Rossville, Ga., resident said, unity is critical.

“It was revealed [to her] by the Holy Spirit that we all must be united [as] one in Jesus Christ,” Gann said.

With that in mind, she and her husband, Jerry, have started One in Christ Fellowship, a monthly gathering of like-minded Christian believers at Wally’s Restaurant in East Ridge.

Before digging into meat-and-twos, the group studies the Bible, prays and collects a missions offering.

“One of the aspects of a fellowship,” said Jerry Gann, “is it’s attractive to people who aren’t comfortable in a church setting.”

His wife’s belief, he said, is that doctrine gets in the way of Christian fellowship.

“We want to avoid partisan ideas [and] doctrine and just go back to basic Christianity or, as C.S. Lewis wrote, ‘Mere Christianity.’”

That’s the way the emergent church is heading anyway, Gann said.

Although the couple are members of First Baptist Church, Fort Oglethorpe, “in the [current] information epoch,” he said, “denominations are rapidly going away.”

One in Christ, Gann

said, is “decidedly not a denomination. We welcome all.”

The fellowship’s first two meetings have had just such a Christian smorgasbord of believers, including Baptists, United Methodists, Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians and Seventh-day Adventists.

“That’s the way the kingdom of heaven’s going to be, anyway,” Angela Gann said.

The Bible study leaders — they’re presently checking out Christ’s parables — also have varied denominational backgrounds.

The fellowship, according to Jerry Gann is formed around the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

After all, he said, “that’s what the first statement of faith was: Christ is Lord. That’s still a valid statement of faith.”

Whether or not the body eventually moves on to become a church, is not up them, the couple said.

“It’s how the Holy Spirit will lead us into that objective,” said Angela Gann. “I don’t know how the leading will take place [or] to where he would want us to go.”

Should they go down that route, they said, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship might be a model. That organization works with Baptist individuals and churches — affiliates — in order to fulfill their God-given mission.

One of the hallmarks of emergent churches, said Jerry Gann, is that they will be organized less in denominations and more, like the CBF, in networks of cooperating churches.

So, for now, he said, they won’t worry about Sunday schools, youth programs and choirs. They’ll meet at Wally’s on the second Saturday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m.

“We’re retired,” Angela Gann, undaunted about what the gatherings could become. “Our bodies are probably not as they should be, but our spirits are willing. The Lord just wants us to do his work, to be productive for his kingdom.”

Contact Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.