Small Kentucky church sees 53 pandemic baptisms
By DIANA CHANDLER, Baptist Press
FALMOUTH, Ky. (BP) – When he was just 8 years old, pastor of Trinity Southern Baptist Church, Abram Crozier, walked the streets of his neighborhood of Falmouth, Ky., Preaching to Isaiah.
“And then reproach his brothers for not having listened to the Holy Word of God,” recalled his mother Karen Crozier. “He was tapping on that Bible and he was like, ‘Mom, these guys don’t listen to me and I’m preaching the Holy Word of God.’ We even had a mock church at the back of the house with the family just so he could preach.
Abram’s parents Karen and Harry Crozier, who themselves pastors at First Baptist Church in Falmouth just a block from Trinity, are not surprised that Abram is pastor today.
They are thrilled with the 53 church baptisms of about 150 worshipers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including 31 baptisms this year and 22 in 2020. 72 other members have joined in addition to baptisms in 2019 and 2020 .
Trinity had fallen to only around 20 worshipers when Abram arrived on board in January 2019, having provided a pulpit for the church for the month of December 2018. He quickly cast a vision of a “church on the move” and called the revitalization a “God thing.”
“My love for the community has always been there. I think that is a big part of what’s going on, ”Abram said. “I know the people. I like people. I love the city.
Church treasurer Joe Adams appreciates Trinity’s vitality and the excitement Abram brings. His call to the church as pastor was a unanimous decision, Adams said.
“We found out that he was a substitute preacher and we brought him in here,” Adams said. “He’s a man led by the Spirit. He is very willing to let himself be guided by the Spirit. … But the way he preaches is really what attracts people. He’s just telling the truth and that’s it. It doesn’t water it down or nothing. He’s just going to tell you what it is. I don’t mind having my toes stepped on.
Falmouth was devastated by flooding in 1997 when Abram’s father was on ministerial staff at Trinity before moving to First Falmouth in 2003. The flood killed five people in Falmouth and covered 80% of the town of water as the Licking River continued to rise. .
The city of about 2,000 people experienced great unity as it struggled to recover, but Abram said poverty, drug addiction and plague were collateral damage from the flooding.
Trinity Southern serves the community wherever it’s needed, helping residents move furniture and complete home repairs, serving meals to students during spring break, supporting first responders, and helping maintain community playgrounds. Abram added a youth group to the church ministry. In a place of worship, on a Sunday, the church took care of the community by cleaning it up from scattered garbage. The church has completed minor renovations to its campus and has doubled the size of its parking lot.
“I see the potential of what God can do in a place like this,” Abram said. The church “really supported” the vision of serving the community and did “amazing things”, continuing during the pandemic.
Abram, who completed two years of undergraduate studies at Kentucky Christian University and did not attend the seminar, said he viewed the pandemic as a ministerial challenge.
“I was actually excited throughout the pandemic because I finally felt like I was on an equal footing,” he said. “No one knew what they were doing, so I felt like everyone was kinda in the same boat as me. We probably went through three or four months without any baptism, because the church was closed for a few weeks and it took a while for people to come back.
As worship resumed, Abram wore face masks and continued to baptize people in the church’s baptismal pool and in the Licking River, switching to two Sunday services to allow for social distancing.
“We have never stopped making the altar call. I think sometimes as a pastor you get discouraged if no one comes to the end of the service, but we really pushed the altar call, ”Abram said. “Every message I make, I always refer to Christ. And then a great thing too, we have a lot of Catholics in our area, and so a lot of it was just explaining what baptism was.
The new youth group led to many salutes, with an average attendance of around 40 youth groups per week, Abram said.
Abram’s father involves First Falmouth in many Trinity events, which sometimes means joint worship services and programs. First Falmouth had an average of around 45 in Sunday worship before the pandemic, according to the church’s annual profile.
“He lit a fire under our little church,” said Abram’s father Harry, “because they are trying to follow him.”
At the start of Abram’s pastorship in Trinity, he and the deacons discussed ways to develop the congregation.
“They were always talking about ‘Well, if you kiss a pig, that could probably get them in.'”
Did he kiss a pig? No.
“I’ve always said if I have to kiss a pig this Sunday, then next week I should kiss a cow. And I don’t know what else I’m going to have to kiss, ”he said.
Abram crushed the dramatic gimmick.
“I didn’t want people to come to church for a gadget because then they would leave,” he said. “If they don’t have another gadget the following Sunday, they won’t come back.
“And I knew if we could get them there with the Gospel, it would keep them there. We have seen it too.