A History of God’s Grace to Us Over the Years
The people who would become West Main Baptist Church gathered for the first time together for worship on April 11, 1976 at Liberty State Bank in Alexandria. After meeting temporarily in the bank, the church purchased land on West Main Street on April 21, 1976 from the Alexandria Lions Club. The building we now worship in was once a school building, which had been vacated because of the consolidation of schools into what is now DeKalb West School in Liberty. The building and land included the school building that has now been converted into a sanctuary with a seating capacity of 294, 13 classrooms, an office suite, a basement, a fellowship area, and a gymnasium. West Main Baptist Church was officially organized May 23, 1976 with 136 charter members and was accepted into the Salem Baptist Association. Dr. F.M. Dowell (June 1976 – January 1977) was elected as interim pastor until a regular pastor would be called. Regular services were held in the gymnasium on the property until church renovations were complete. The newly remodeled facilities were dedicated on October 24, 1976, and our church family worshiped together for the first time in our new church house that same day.
Amos M. Jarman was called as the first pastor of West Main Baptist Church in December 1976 and began his ministry here in January 1977. The Lord blessed during his leadership, and we saw growth in membership, ministry, and facilities. The church parsonage was purchased in August 1978, the basement was remodeled to add three Sunday School rooms, and an addition to the fellowship hall was dedicated on September 22, 1985. Unfortunately, however, the gymnasium was destroyed by a tornado in August 1980. One of the highlights of Bro. Jarman’s tenure was the raising up and calling out from our congregation three men who were licensed to preach the Gospel—Philip Lane, Edward Eaton, and Richard Buckner. Bro. Jarman faithfully served our congregation until December 1987.
W.W. Harrison, a retired minister, served as interim pastor from January 1988 to June 1988. We enjoyed his joyful, kind spirit, along with his mighty sermons and sweet songs.
Our second pastor was James Daniel. This quiet, humble man, who showed the love of God through his care for the congregation and his commitment to preach the gospel, began his ministry here in June 1988. During his tenure, he helped to start the “Happy Hearts” Senior Adult Ministry at WMBC and an intercessory prayer team, which was facilitated by Betty Pryor. Also, the youth group enjoyed an expanding ministry to the point that a 15-passenger van was needed to be purchased during the ministry of Bro. Daniel, which helped facilitate new Children’s Church and van ministries. Bro. Daniel faithfully served our congregation until June 1995.
Dr. H.E. Cotey, a retired minister from FBC Murfreesboro, was interim pastor from October 1995 to September 1996. He helped lead and guide us with his experience, dedication, and genuine Christian spirit.
Philip Lane served as our third pastor and began his ministry here in September 1996. Bro. Philip was a man that loved the people and served in a Christ-like manner. Many mission works and ministries began during Bro. Lane’s ministry, such as the Disaster Relief Ministry directed by Gene Pryor, the “Operation Christmas Child” Shoe Box Ministry, the White Dove Ministry to provide food for grieving church members, both foreign and home mission trips were made, and the church started a major Easter Walk-thru ministry. It was also during this period that the church built a large storage building. On May 8, 2002 the churched purchased a 26-passenger bus, and glory to God, it was paid off before the year was up. God gave us another special blessing when Jeremy Vanatta was called out of our congregation into full time ministry and was ordained at WMBC on November 2, 2003. Bro. Philip faithfully served our congregation until August 2004.
A major highlight under the pastoral care of Bro. Lane was the birth of the “Brooke Martin Hunger Fund,” which was started on May 6, 2004. The idea began in the spring of 2004 when four-year-old Brooke Martin saw a commercial about suffering and hungry children. With a burden on her heart, she began praying for the children daily and at the altar during the church invitation time. When Pastor Lane and the church learned of the prayer concern of Brooke, it was decided to give a monthly love offering to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. On November 7, 2004, the director of the International Mission Board came to make a video of the children giving their offering to the World Hunger Fund, and that tape has been viewed around the world. In a few short months from May 2004 to November 2004, the church raised over $5,000 for the World Hunger Fund. Currently, you will find the children, as well as adults, bringing little banks of money to help hungry children on the first Sunday of each month. One hundred percent of the money is used for hunger ministry in both the U.S. and all over the world.
Philip Dougan served as interim pastor from October 2004 to November 2005. He served our church with a joyful spirit and smiling face and was faithful to deliver the message of Christ to us. The AWANA children’s ministry was started here in October 2004, the video projection system was installed and used for the first time during our worship services on October 9, 2005, and the church purchased a baby grand piano. In the wake of the terrible disaster caused by the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia, Gene Pryor went with a group of six from the Salem Association to minister there.
Jeffrey Hicks began his ministry as our fourth pastor in December 2005. During his years with us, there were both foreign and home mission trips made, including a youth mission trip to Memphis, TN to help Bro. Don Amburn‘s church reach the lost in a Hispanic community, and a team of six church members went to Brazil. Our 30-year Anniversary Celebration was held in May, 2006. Bro. Jeff faithfully served our congregation until July 2007.
Former pastor Bro. Amos Jarman served as interim pastor from the fall of 2007 to September 2008. What a treat it was for our congregation! At the end of his interim period, our churched decided to honor Bro. Jarman by bestowing upon him the prestigious title of Pastor Emeritus for his faithful service to our church family over its history. Also, during this time, the Lord called another man in our congregation to preach. Guy Buckner was licensed to the gospel ministry by our church on April 6, 2008.
Our fifth pastor was Ben Simpson, who served here from September 2008 to May 2014. Under Bro. Ben’s leadership of nearly 6 years, West Main took great steps forward in health and saw around 70 people baptized and many more profess faith in Christ. Given his former experience as a youth pastor, our youth and children’s ministries grew tremendously, and in 2012, he led us to complete the first phase of a new playground. His experience as a worship leader also helped us to begin to blend in contemporary music with a full praise band accompanying the congregation. Bro. Ben’s wife, Christy, creatively led our women’s and teenage girls’ ministries and was a great blessing. Pastor Ben faithfully served our congregation until God called him away to take a new church campus in his hometown of Bowling Green, KY. You can keep up with Bro. Ben’s family, writing, and preaching at JBenSimpson.com.
One major highlight under Bro. Ben’s leadership was the beginning of a partnership in 2010 with North American Mission Board missionary Jason Johnson. Bro. Jason was called by God to plant churches among the First Nations peoples of upper Saskatchewan, Canada, which statistically speaking are 100% unreached for Christ. In 2010, WMBC began monthly support of this missionary, and in 2011, Bro. Ben led a team there to do evangelistic work. Another trip was planned for 2013, but Bro. Jason unfortunately had to cancel. Bro. Ben instead led a team from our church to help church planters in the Greater Cincinnati area of Ohio. Nevertheless, we are glad to still partner with Bro. Jason Johnson to reach Saskatchewan for Jesus!
Evangelist Bro. Thurman Seber served as the interim from the fall of 2014 to January 2015.
Currently, Dusty Desimone serves as pastor at West Main. The Lord brought him here in January of 2015, and we are so excited to see all that God is going to do through Him as our pastor.
By looking back through our history, we find examples of faithful, Christian servants. People who worked to build God’s kingdom, for His glory. May we strive to continue to be workers for the Lord and His Kingdom. There are no small jobs and no small workers because the Bible clearly reminds us that there should always be a grand motive behind everything we do, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). We by no means are a perfect people, but we have been redeemed by and serve a perfect God who is day by day transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the years, we have been blessed to see God’s Spirit move in mighty ways as we worship Him together. We have had sweet fellowship with one another and learned the joy and blessing of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” We have shared in the separation of many loved ones called home to be with the Lord, and rejoiced in times of new life through salvation and through the birth of children. The motto for these many years here at West Main Baptist has always been, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and the only stained-glass window in our sanctuary reminds us of that. The Lord has tenderly carried us through hard times and blessed us with many blessings. Nevertheless, we press onward toward the future with our faces forward because we know that the best is yet to come. We pray that if the Lord tarries in His return, the people of West Main Baptist Church will be found faithful for centuries to come!