New Vision takes root in renewed church building

Just last year, the building of brick, stone and stained glass was a wedding venue – on Sunday, Rickey Moore preached on the bride of Christ, the church, seeking her glorious groom, Jesus.
He’d prefer we call him Rickey. Not ‘Bishop’ or ‘Dr.’ Not ‘Preacher,’ ‘Reverend’ or ‘Pastor.’
“We’re not hung up on titles,” says the leader of New Vision MBC at 309 N. Cotton in Gladewater.
He’s exultant after welcoming a standing room-only crowd for the congregation’s dedication ceremony Sunday afternoon, a diverse group of about 350 people, including members of both the new Gladewater ministry and their sister church in Marshall.
“Our vision was to start a church where people would come and feel comfortable, they would feel like they are family,” Moore said. “When you come to church, you won’t see folks with suits on. We wear jeans and t-shirts and football jerseys. We want folks to feel comfortable when they come.”
A church was first organized on the spot in the late ‘30s – “We have the original Bible in there that was donated to the church back in 1939,” Moore says – and its original building burned in the 1950s.
The rebuilt structure served for years then eventually fell out of use. Ultimately, local developers Dale and Tanna Rhoades acquired the property and renovated it into a wedding venue.
Per Moore, “They always said, ‘If we ever get rid of it, we want it to remain a church.’ Other people had tried to buy it. They were going to make a rooming house out of it in that neighborhood.” That wasn’t the plan, he added: “It’s a church, and we want to keep it a church.”
The new congregants found rich architecture waiting for them Sunday, including some of the original chairs from the 1952 rebuild.
“What makes it unique, when you sit in the church and look up, the ceiling represents the crown of thorns that was on Jesus’ head,” Moore said, “to remind us that we too are going to bear a crown. Every time we come to church to worship, we are reminded that down here we bear our crosses but we look up to be reminded that one day we’re going to wear a crown. I think that’s beautiful.”
Sunday’s service included dedications for both the church and the Marlon Green Fellowship Hall, named in honor of the late son of Robert Green, who was instrumental in landing the church here along with Moore and Robert Nash.
For five years, Moore said, every Sunday Green and Nash drove from Gladewater to Karnack then to Marshall to attend services until the trio began crafting their new vision last Christmas Eve. Three months later, both churches have been adding members consistently, both in-person, online and through a half-hour television ministry airing at 7 a.m. Mondays.
“When I preach, I’m going to make you, number one, laugh. Number two, I want you to listen, I want you to learn, and, when you leave, I want you to live it. That’s my goal when I preach,” he said. “My sermons don’t go past 20 minutes. I don’t believe in holding people all day.”
Part of the vision is for the church to become another educational hub. With professors, school administrators, coaches and teachers in the congregation, Moore sees great potential.
“We’re planning on getting a grant to get some computers so we can offer a computer course and after school tutorials,” he said. “We want to help people prepare to go to college and also help adults get their GED.
“I believe in education,” currently enrolled at East Texas Baptist University toward a degree in Christian counseling.
Moore says he’s grateful to be back in Gladewater after being called to preach at St. James MBC here at age 25. The late Mary Hawley and Delores Johnson were keen to see him return along with his spiritual mother, Evergrace Derrick.
“Thank God she’s still alive to see I came back to Gladewater,” he said, and to see the new church come to life through the dedicated efforts and generosity of its members: “New Vision is truly a church that lives up to its motto. This our mission statement. This is what we live by:
“We are the church where the word is explained, Jesus is proclaimed, love is exchanged, and where God’s vision for your life will be made plain.”

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