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Church Leaders Band Together to Create Marble Falls Mission Center

Local church leaders are trying to create a Marble Falls mission center in the old Cornerstone Baptist Church building on Avenue R. The center would offer services to help residents escape the poverty trap. Courtesy photo

MARBLE FALLS — Gary Stone believes there’s a huge difference between being broke and living in poverty.

He said he knows firsthand the difference, noting he’s “had a year or two where I made $4,000, and God got me through it.”

“Poverty is a mindset when you give up, when you no longer have the hope to go on,” he said. “You start depending on others. A broke person can bounce back. Poverty is a trap. We want to help people come out of the trap.”

That’s what prompted Stone, business administrator for First Baptist Church of Marble Falls, and church leaders to begin the process of creating a mission center in Marble Falls after they spoke to leaders of Cornerstone Baptist Church.

The services at the projected mission center will help individuals escape the poverty trap. Architectural plans have already been sent to the city of Marble Falls, Stone said, to ensure the plans meet the city’s codes.

Organizers are starting the process to obtain a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and will form a board of directors to oversee the operation, Stone said. The current Cornerstone building at 408 Avenue R will be torn down with the proposed mission center built on that site.

Cornerstone members voted to turn the property over to First Baptist Church, Stone said, “in order to coordinate a lot of stuff to build the mission center.”

“They want to be part of a much larger movement. They want to build a mission center for Marble Falls,” he said. “A faith-based mission center.”

The new mission center will be patterned after Mission Arlington, which offers free services such as school supplies, after-school care, dental and medical care, counseling, support groups, and emergency assistance for groceries, clothing, financial assistance for rent, utilities, prescriptions, and gas vouchers.

What has encouraged leaders of First Baptist Church, Stone said, are the number of leaders of other congregations who have felt called to do more in the city. He calls it a general movement.

“God has spoken to numerous pastors to start a new ministry,” he said. “Other churches in the community have approached us and have said God is leading them in this direction. It’s inspiring because it’s the same message Pastor Ross Chandler (lead pastor of First Baptist Church) got. They say, ‘If we don’t do something about it, we believe we are grieving the Holy Spirit if we don’t move on it.’ This is a Jesus thing.

“There are individual churches that want to do ministry in the community,” he added. “They want to help people. It’s what they choose to do. Other churches serve other functions. We want to work together and have a place where people can see Christ.”

The goal is to have ministries at the new Marble Falls facility every week led by other churches in the city and area, Stone said.

The ministries will revolve around one theme: life skills taught by experts to help people better themselves and their families.

“A lot of people in our community are falling behind,” Stone said. “We want to give them the skills so they can thrive. Some people struggle to live day to day.”

What makes the Avenue R property so attractive is its location. It's in a part of the city where the homes are older and many residents are on fixed incomes. They are the ones the ministry is targeting.

The proposed mission center will include a multipurpose room to allow Cornerstone members to continue to worship there as well as a kitchen, a food pantry, offices, and storage space. The top floor will have smaller meeting rooms for ongoing ministries.

Cornerstone Baptist Church has already taken a huge step in becoming a mission center. It is the new home of Mission Marble Falls, which serves a free community lunch Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. To Stone, Mission Marble Falls is the ideal example of the type of ministry organizers desire to do: They want to ensure their neighbors don’t go hungry.

“We want to add more, to make more ministries available to those folks,” Stone said.

Throughout American history, Stone said, it was churches that helped their members and residents by meeting needs and equipping people with resources — not the government.

“The church has done this for hundreds of years,” he said. “The church, through history, has been a place where people come for help. From government, what you get is a faithless help. We believe the true place people get help is from God, not government. We believe churches have stepped aside and allowed government to get involved. There are certain things society can do great. I think churches do a better job of helping people and giving them a hand up, not a handout.”

Helping people with every facet of their lives is the goal, he said, as well as leading them to realize the source of all of it is God and Jesus Christ.

“We’re not wanting to replace any ministries that are already going on,” Stone said. “We want to reinforce and provide another layer of support for people for the other ministries already ongoing.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com

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