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

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

July 23rd, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

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 ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497.