SELAH!

A God Ordained Church

Several years ago the National Evangelist with the Church of God, G.J. Chandler, held a Holy Ghost revival at the Oneida Church of God, a small congregation of believers nestled in the moutains of southeastern Kentucky.  We had shared with Brother Chandler that we needed a new facility due to our growing congregation.  One evening while traveling down the winding country road to the church, we passed the Laurel Creek Elementary School and informed Brother Chandler that the school would be closing in the near future due to the ever decreasing number of children who attended there.  He calmly said, "There's a building.  Why don't you buy it for your new church?"  At the time, we didn't give his comment much thought given the fact that we were barely paying the $350.00 monthly mortgage payment, as well as the insurance, utilities, and Pastor's salary from the tithes and offerings.

To give you some insight into our humble beginnings, God called our Pastor, Joseph Burns, whom everyone calls Brother Joey, into the ministry through a vision.  God chose him to be our pastor.  Brother Joey and his wife, Vicki, and their two daughters, Candon and Deidra, knew nothing about leading a congregation of believers, but God had placed the calling upon them.  They had sat under the ministry of E.C. and Ruby Campbell for nearly 10 years attending the Burning Springs Church of God in Clay County, Kentucky.  When the call came, Brother Joey announced that God wanted him to start a new church in Oneida, Kentucky, which was also located in Clay County.  Not one person was asked to go with Brother Joey and his family, but a total of 17 left the Burning Springs Church to begin this new journey for the Lord.     

Armed with nothing but sheer confidence that God would supply all our needs, we headed for Oneida in search of a building.  Sure enough, God had gone before us and had a log cabin just waiting to hold the small group.  There were 25 in attendance that first morning.  Brother Joey stood in the dining room and preached, with the piano and drums as his backdrop.  The congregation sat in the living room and Sunday School was conducted in the bedrooms.  It was great!  A few months later, we decided we needed more room.  We had outgrown the log cabin, so God provided a store front building right around the corner. 

Within a couple of weeks and several coats of paint, we had a wonderful place of worship with a few new members who came with the building...the local rats!  It seemed we had invaded their territory and they were not about to leave.  They showed up a few times during our services, but we came to a reasonable agreement...if they didn't bother us, we wouldn't bother them!  It seemed to work, because we didn't lose one member.  In fact, our congregation continued to grow and in a few short months we needed a new place to worship.  We organized as a church on August 7, 1988, with 27 members.

Now, it was no coincidence that Brother Squire Davidson, who pastored the local Holiness Church there in Oneida, approached Brother Joey one day with a proposition.  He told Brother Joey, "We have about 8 people who attend our little church, and I'm not getting any younger.  Would you be willing to bring your congregation and have church with us?"  God had provided again.  After a short discussion between the two men of God to clarify a few minor details, it was done.  The two churches would unite and it would be called the Oneida Church of God, just like God had ordained it. 

After about a year, God opened another door for our church to purchase a prime piece of real estate right smack in the middle of Oneida directly behind the Post Office.  This was no small feat.  The owner of the property lived out of state, and in case you're not familiar with country folk, they don't take too highly to selling property, espeically to "outsiders."  But God came on the scene again.  When God has a plan for us He can, and will, use anyone and anything to accomplish His will.  The new facility was erected by a few members of the congregation (about 5 men), and the first service in the new church was held in February 1991.  The new building held about 250 people max.  That first morning, it was packed.  Not a seat was left in the building, and people were still arriving.  This is where you know that God is in the arrangements.  It hits you like a ton of bricks.  Here we were, virtually unknown in this big world, and suddenly God places a call upon our life, reaches down from Heaven and blesses everything we do, and the result is unbelieveable!  It was nothing we had accomplished ourselves.  This was God's plan.  He called and all we did was answer.  We didn't know what God had in store for us next, but He did.

As our congregation continued to grow to approximately 260 members by 2004, we began to pray that God would open yet another door for us.  Up to this point, we had added onto our building, and had purchased all of the surrounding property that was available.  We still needed more space inside the building and outside.  We needed additional seating, as well as additional parking.  We pondered on how we could expand.  We started to build an addition to the rear of the building, but soon learned that with the addition, it was not going to be enough.  What was God's next plan for us?  As we prayed, we began to think "outside the box."  Could it be that God wanted us to move our congregation a few miles up the road to the now empty Laurel Creek Elementary School?  The school would be perfect for us.  It was one of two schools the state had built approximately 30 years prior as a pilot program.  There were no inside dividing walls or rooms in this facility.  It was divided into three separate pods, all open forum.  The classrooms were divided by book shelves.  Each pod had an identity such as the lower or upper pod.  As we prayed for God's direction, the answer was clear.  Yes, God had planned all the while for us to have this beautiful facility...but how could we afford it?  Romans 8:28says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (KJV)  We now had the answer.  All we knew to do was pray. 

First, we had to find out if the building was going to be for sale.  To make a long story short, it was and real soon, too.  I don't have enough time to tell you how that all came about, but God performed miracle after miracle to open these doors for us.  That's a whole 'nother story!  The Superintendent of the Clay County school system informed us that the school would be going up for auction in October 2004.  About 60 members of the congregation showed up that day.  Let me stop right here and share with you how there's no doubt that God was in charge of this venture the entire time.

After we learned that the school was for sale, Brother Joey contacted our Kentucky State Overseer.  We knew there were proper procedures in place we had to adhere to when selling or buying property within the Church of God organization.  The Overseer was thrilled to hear about our accomplishments and plans to expand.  He informed Brother Joey that the State Committee would be coming down to conduct an evaluation of our old facility, as well as the school, to make a calculated determination and recommendation of the move.  As it turned out, the Committee's recommendation was not to move, but to stay where we were due mostly to our finances, or lack thereof.  Based upon their recommendation, the Overseer was bound by their findings, and called Brother Joey the night before the auction to inform him that he should not place a bid to purchase the school.  He did, however, advise Brother Joey that he could request to lease the building.  What happened?  Had God suddenly changed His mind?  Could we have misinterpreted God's plan that badly?  Now, what were we going to do?!   Brother Joey had to reach God, so he immediately ran to pray at the altar of the church to seek God's direction. 

The next day, here we stood in the midst of a congregation of people waiting to start the auction where the whole county was waiting to see who would be the highest bidder.  You see, there were a couple of other people there that day who were also interested in purchasing the school to start a drug rehabilitation center.  No one knew what the Overseer had told Brother Joey, except his wife, Vicki.  They were stunned.  Questions rolled over in their minds.  How can we go against the State Overseer's recommendation?  If we did, would Brother Joey's minister's license be revoked?  If we didn't place a bid, would the congregation be let down so badly that they would all leave the church?  We needed an answer NOW, but there was only one answer.  It came down to who do we serve...God or man?  We already knew the answer in our hearts.  We had to serve God and follow His instructions.  He is the One who we will all give an anwer.  If He couldn't take care of the financial problems we had, then no one could. 

The bidding started.  Everyone looked at Brother Joey.  We could feel their stares.  He said nothing.  Another person placed a bid.  Then another.  Brother Joey stood motionless, staring at no one in particular, rolling over and over in his mind, what should I do?  What should I do?  The atmosphere throughout the congregation was electrifying.  Finally, Brother Joey asked his wife, what should I do?  She had no response.  It seemed liked a long hesitation, but in reality, was only a few seconds when Brother Joey finally placed his bid.  All of a sudden, the bidding stopped!  It seemed as if God had told everyone there, it is enough.  This property belongs to my people.  My church.  The auctioneer yelled, "Going once, going twice.  SOLD!"  It was finished.  What was next for the Oneida Church of God?  That's a whole 'nother story, as well.  

We had our first service in the new facility on December 31, 2004.  In five years, our congregation has grown to 481 members and still growing!  We feel that God planned and had built the Laurel Creek Elementary School to become the Oneida-Laurel Creek Church of God Worship Center from the very beginning.  They had it on loan until God's timing became perfect.  Yes, God still opens doors and windows of opportunities for His people.  All we need to do is step through them.  Go forward.  Without hesitation, because He will be with us.

When you're in our area, we invite you to stop by and join in worship with us.  We love God and love to sing praises to Him for His wonderful blessings on us.