Oak Ridge Church of Christ Meeting House Near French Camp, Mississippi
The Oak Ridge Church of Christ has quite a heritage of loving and supporting young preachers. Located North of Kosciusko, home of Magnolia Bible College, there was never a shortage of young preacher students who needed a place to preach. Over the years at times faculty members would preach for long stretches at the Ridge.
When I arrived in Kosciusko in the Spring of 1981, Danny Dodd was preaching out at Oak Ridge on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. For many years Dan Beardain would preach at Oak Ridge as a mission effort, and then drive over to his home congregation in Huntsville, MS to preach.
Danny had a special relationship with Clay and Helen Hopkins. And believe me, they loved him as one of their own children. While I was preaching at the Ridge, I spent many Sunday afternoons at the Hopkins’ home. A Sunday afternoon with Clay was filled with stories about fox hunting and logging. That was between watching ‘rasslin’ on TV and the Gospel Music Jubilee…. and a few naps. Helen’s cooking was a step above most. As Clay told his stories, Helen would call out from the other room, “Now Clay, you ought not be telling that”. He told it anyway.
Sunday, Floyd (Clay and Helen’s son) told me that his mother was in the hospital. He asked if I would go by to see her, and he told me that she likely would not recognize me. Maggy and I went by to see her. Helen instantly recognized me, and we had a great conversation. Though she is 92, her mind is sharp as can be. We enjoyed that visit so much … and the names of the preachers who came through Oak Ridge filled her thoughts. She mentioned Danny Dodd, Glenn Jarrett (married to her niece Vickie Davis), Leslie Grant, Ray Paseur and I’m sure others I’m forgetting.
Helen related a dream she had had the night before … that she was trying to get to Oak Ridge for church, but every attempt was met with an obstacle … and in her dreams she never made it to church. It was obvious that this was not just a dream, but it was her personal dream to be able to worship with the family at Oak Ridge again. Pray for her health to allow this dream to come true.
The heritage of the Oak Ridge church will no doubt be the service they provided in allowing young preacher students to “preach”. Every young preacher needs a place to actually get some experience in preaching, and Oak Ridge was that place for many of us at MBC. As a result they have heard some awful sermons over the years, but still remain steadfast. They must study a lot on their own!
More Oak Ridge Reflections tomorrow!