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New ministry creating a stir
In the pulpit
Pastor Thomas Gardner - photo by Photo provided.
A newly organized ministry in Long County, A New Beginning, is creating a sense of excitement in the community.
A New Beginning formed in July. “A group of us got together and went to the Long County school board and they allowed us to use Smiley Elementary School. We are nondenominational. At our first worship service, we had 98 in attendance and 92 people joined,” Pastor Thomas Gardner said.
Gardner has been a licensed minister since 2004 and served as the associate and youth pastor from 2008-2010 with the Ludowici Church of God. He is an ordained minister in the Church of God and has extensive training with the organization.
“I am surprised at the number of people who are coming in. God is adding people, and we see new faces at almost every service. We are getting a lot of the un-churched,” Gardner said. “People are excited and have become passionate about church. They feel God has called us for such a time as this. One couple has brought 15 people.
“I have seen a lot of unity. We are doing it with excellence unto the Lord and want to make a major impact in this community. We want to bring everyone into a relationship with Christ,” the pastor said.  “We want to see lives changed, and even at a ball game have people testifying about God. I want to let people know that if you give God a chance, He will help you.”
The ministry’s motto is “everyone deserves a new beginning.”
Gardner said they are not trying to impress, but want to impact. “We want Biblical teaching, inspirational preaching and worship from the heart. It’s not about making people feel guilty. We are learning how to minister to people in a way so they will want to come. We want to let people know we are there for them,” he said.
The church has several ministries including youth, women, a boys and girls club and an ushers and greeters ministry.
“We are in the process of putting together the choir. Wednesday nights are geared toward the youth with a contemporary worship style. We also have children’s church on Sunday,” Gardner said. “Life has a way of piling up, but we are here to offer people Christ. We want them to know whatever they are going through, a relationship with Christ will not make you perfect, but it will help you to go through.”
Gardner credits Pastor Tommy Whaley of the Darien Church of God with being a great influence and source of inspiration in his life. “He has an excitement for the ministry. I watch the way he lives his life and he has shown me so many things. I call him for wisdom and advice,” Gardner said.
The pastor said he tries to bring a little humor to his congregation. “I make people laugh. Laughter makes you feel better and I incorporate it in my preaching,” he said.
In his spare time, Gardner, who lives in Townsend, enjoys spending time outdoors. “I enjoy water, sports and basketball. It is one of my favorite sports,” he said.
A New Beginning has Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and worship services at 11 a.m. Sunday evening services are at 6. For more information, call Gardner at 269-1609.
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