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Submitted photo Second Baptist Church Pastor Gene Staples' installation service will begin 7 p.m. Thursday evening at the church, joining together other community religious leaders.

Archived Story

Church leaders unite for local pastor

Published 3:17pm Monday, June 4, 2012

When Pastor Gene C. Staples came to Second Baptist Church, he jumped feet first into the Dowagiac community looking to make a difference in people’s lives.

Come 7 p.m. Thursday evening, the community will join him, his congregation and his family for his pastoral installation service, officially welcoming Staples into Dowagiac.

The installation service is Staples way of extending Second Baptist’s reach to residents and presenting a united front on improving the community with other community religious leaders and city officials. With programs also on Friday evening and Sunday, Staples said he wanted to conduct the installation “publicly” and help bring the community and its spiritual leaders together.

“Churches can be more competitive in other communities, but we all should be building the body of Christ together,” Staples said in an interview Monday. “The universal body of Christ is my goal and we want to have a big celebration of that.”

Thursday evening’s service will include worship lead by the Rev. Tracy Rohdy of Dowagiac’s New Life Faith Baptist Church, followed by light refreshments immediately afterward. The community is invited to attend all of the installation programs.

“We need to mobilize and unite our efforts so that people learn how to communicate with one other for the better of the community,” Staples said.

After kicking off a “100 Day Campaign,” which allotted time for Staples to sit down one-on-one with congregation members, community leaders and city officials, Staples said he wanted his pastoral installation to welcome those he’s met and open doors for others he hasn’t yet reached.

“Part of what I’m called to do is point people to the right place,” Staples said. “I accept people where they are and challenge them to reach where they need to be.”

Among reorganizing Second Baptist’s men and women’s ministries, Staples will also institute the Youth Camp Talent Explosion, a free performing arts camp that will begin 10 a.m. June 23 and last throughout the summer.

“We’re bringing together choral, dance, sign language and spoken word instruction,” Staples said. “We want to give the youth of Dowagiac a platform to express themselves and maybe find a career path they can follow.”

The camp will also include a free meal in between instructions.

After both installation programs on Thursday and Friday evenings, Staples and Second Baptist will also welcome back the Rev. Henry C. Smith, the church’s previous pastor of 32 years, to conduct morning worship at 10:45 a.m. After a meal for all guests, an afternoon service will be lead by the Rev. Keith Witherspoon of Bethlehem Baptist Church in South Bend.

While the focus of the installation will be on welcoming Staples and his family to the church, Staples sees a much bigger picture.

“This is bigger than Second Baptist Church; this is about community,” Staples said. “We want to be a focal point for people in this community.”

The installation services begin 7 p.m. Thursday at Second Baptist Church, 203 S. Paul St., in Dowagiac. Friday’s service will begin at 7 p.m., also. Sunday’s festivities will begin at 10:45 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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