At the intersection of Union, Branchview and Church Street in Concord, N.C., you’ll find Coldwater Baptist Church. Situated about 30 minutes outside of Charlotte, Coldwater carries a rich history as the oldest Baptist church in Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties, dating back to 1775. Coldwater is also part of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association, the third oldest Baptist association in the U.S., founded in 1758. And just down the road is Risen Church, the newest church in Cabarrus County, which is set to launch in January 2023. 

While these two churches share a vastly different history, their mission to join other churches to reach the community is the same. That’s why on Aug. 22-24, Risen Church, Coldwater Baptist, Friendship Baptist, Parkwood Baptist and Iglesia Monte de Dios partnered together to host a Vacation Bible School (VBS) on Coldwater’s campus. 

“This event is already successful simply because churches are working together,” said Jesse Watkins, pastor of Friendship Baptist, who noted that 25 kids and their parents showed up for VBS along with roughly 25 volunteers. 

The theme of this year’s VBS was “Who Done It?,” a detective-themed curriculum written by Friendship Baptist’s children’s ministry director, which sought to uncover the “mysteries” behind the fall of mankind, the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. During the week, each church took responsibility for each of the activities every night. For example, on Tuesday night, Risen Church led the Bible lesson, Friendship led the music and Coldwater helped with crafts and snacks. The three-day long VBS culminated in a community block party Aug. 24, which included food, games, inflatables and a gospel message from Coldwater’s lead pastor Wade Burlinson. 

The Cabarrus Baptist Association and the N.C. Baptist state convention played an integral role in helping the local churches put on VBS for their community and supported them in the planning of the event. 

Eric Mullis, N.C. Baptist Great Commission catalyst, initiated a meeting between the pastors of Coldwater, Friendship and Parkwood in an effort to strengthen the growth of older churches like Coldwater and help new churches like Risen build core teams and relationships with neighboring churches. Such partnership also provides a chance for churches in the county to collaborate in their outreach efforts. 

Mullis hopes to see this collaboration continue to reach the county with the gospel more effectively. In such divisive times, Mullis added that partnerships like these provide a picture of how churches can biblically support one another. 

“It’s modeling biblical cooperation that we so often don’t see,” he said.

“My hope is that it becomes a glimpse of what local partnerships can do. A lot of times when we think of cooperation, we think of large scale North American missions or international missions, when really it should start with local communities.”

Pastors of all five churches will be following up with the families who attended in the coming weeks. Continue to pray for the work these pastors and other N.C. Baptists are doing to labor for the gospel in Cabarrus County. 

by Lauren Pratt, NC Baptist Contributing Writer