Members, church leaders, families, friends, and the community gathered on November 19, 2022, at Maranatha Church, 360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Jackson, Tenn., to celebrate that the church mortgage has been paid off. Ronnie Forté Sr., current pastor, welcomed families, friends, visitors, and church members to the providential occasion. Forté shared, “I thank God for His many blessings and the great works He has allowed Maranatha Church in Jackson to accomplish. We give God all the glory.”
Benjamin Jones Jr., president for South Central Conference, was the Sabbath morning speaker. He challenged the attendees to stay faithful and continue the work in Jackson, Tenn. Sonja Crayton, South Central chief financial officer, presented Sheldon Bright, Marranatha Church elder and treasurer, with an envelope on behalf of South Central Conference. She has worked with the local church treasury ministry to help shepherd them to this opportunity to retire the mortgage.
Former pastors who served in the present building location were invited to share in the milestone celebration. Pastors Michael Hayes (2001-2007) and Curtis Hall (2012-2021) were in attendance. Pastors Robert Mann (2011-2012) and Thomas Donley (2007-2011) were unable to attend, but sent messages of congratulations and well wishes.
This is the second mortgage Maranatha Church has had to retire since its formation in the early 1900s. The church was located on Lane Ave., and a tornado came through Jackson in 1976 and destroyed that building. The members bought property on South Royal Street and built a new sanctuary there. The new church was renamed Maranatha based on Revelations 22:20, “Even so come, Lord Jesus.” Again in 2002, a tornado came through and destroyed the church building.
After meeting at various locations, the members came together again and decided to rebuild, and held a groundbreaking ceremony on November 1, 2004, at 360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, under Hayes’ pastorate. The Maranatha congregation marched to their new location on September 24, 2005.
Maranatha Church is known for its drive-through food pantry distributions, community health fairs, and the community garden sponsored on its property. It currently provides these and other essential community services out of its additional building across the street.
Maranatha Church engages the Jackson, Tenn., community through its Soul Winning Action Team (SWAT) Outreach each week. They go through the neighborhood door to door, praying with residents and distributing truth-filled literature. Also, the SWAT Outreach volunteers at the local soup kitchen.
When asked what it means for the church and community to retire the mortgage, said Forté, “We don’t want to be just a church building on the corner, but a church building engaged to facilitating the Gospel in the community.”
South Central | June 2023