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POSTED: February 23, 2009 12:57 p.m.
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Friendship Baptist Church is at 12199 E. Oglethorpe Highway in Midway.

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The members of Friendship Baptist Church in Midway are excited about moving into their new sanctuary. They have been in the building phase for a few years, and the new church is almost finished and ready for occupancy.
"We are praying to have our new worship center open in 2009. Everything we have done so far is paid off, and we hope to be debt-free when we moved into our sanctuary," Pastor Neal Smith said.
"We would like to open an after-school care for children whose parents are working. We already have programs in place for the children, but would like to expand them," he said.
The nursery and toddlers' rooms are already being used. The church is working toward getting new pews, which is a major expense.
Smith said the church is really growing and he's seeing new faces all the time. "Our desire is to impact the community. I am convinced this is the place where God wants me and my wife to minister."
Smith and his wife Debbie came to Friendship Baptist Church in Midway from Rocky Mountain, N.C., in 2001. Prior to coming to Georgia, he was a junior/senior high school principal at Faith Christian School in Rocky Mount. Smith also served as a teacher/coach/administrator in christian school systems for approximately 14 years.
Friendship Baptist is his first full-time pastorship.
"Midway has the best of several worlds. It has beauty, coastal area and wide open space. Additionally, lots of people are moving into the area. There is so much potential for the gospel, ministry, and growth," Smith said.
Smith said he is inspired and excited about the things that are happening at the church and in the area. He said his congregation is equally enthusiastic.
"They're very caring, very kind, and very serious about making God first in their lives."
Friendship Baptist Church's mission statement is "We exist to love God, one another and our neighbors in order to develop committed followers of Jesus Christ."
On the first Wednesday of each month, the church has a fellowship dinner. They' don't charge a set price, but donations are accepted. The community is invited to come and be a part. Proceeds help the building project. The church also maintains a pantry to help community members in need.
In addition to his pastor job, Smith serves as a chaplain with Marketplace Ministries and is an adjunct professor of christianity at the Brewton-Parker College's campus in Flemington.
"I normally teach one class a semester," he said.
Smith and his wife, who is a kindergarten teacher at Richmond Hill First Baptist Church, live in Midway with their three children, Amber, Kevin and Keith.
 

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