Just about everyone has heard the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” It is one of the more popular idioms detailing responsibility and morality. Such a phrase is not commonplace at East Cooper Baptist Church – voted among the best places to worship by the readers of Mount Pleasant Magazine – as the congregation and leadership alike aim to not only hear the message of God but to practice it as well.
“Our mission statement is that we want to equip people to pursue Jesus Christ passionately as they impact the culture,” said Shepherding Pastor Craig Harris. “We want to equip (the congregation) with a biblical world view that leads to action.”
The church has made good on its promise to practice what it preaches. According to Harris, East Cooper Baptist donates nearly $1 million a year to people in other countries who do not have access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to student and children ministries, there is also a college outreach on the campuses of the College of Charleston and The Citadel, and 70 community groups meet in homes throughout the area.
Jody Gouge, a member of the congregation for 20 years, is raising his family in the church. The Gouge family went on a three-year mission trip to Hungary to teach English to children and adults. The principal and managing partner of VisionPATH Business Solutions, Gouge also led business-by-the-book sessions with small business owners while he was abroad.
“We have a strong community in our church that we draw encouragement from,” Gouge said. “What that translates to is we do life together through the ups and downs. It’s important to have spiritual friends and that circle of folks around you.”
Locally, the church helps its fellow Lowcountry residents with its Love On Charleston initiative. Members of the church go into the community to help with house repairs, exterior painting and assisting people who cannot do the work themselves.
“The Bible tells us we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep,” said Senior Pastor Buster Brown. “Part of being in the community of faith is that you celebrate with each (other) in times of victory and grieve with each other in times of sorrow, all in a community of grace, forgiveness, and mercy because of who Christ is.”
There is a buzz around the church about the new building expansion that will be unveiled in the first quarter of the new year. After more than two years of planning and construction, the church will open its new sanctuary as a means to “increase (the) worship capacity and minister to (the) community in a more effective fashion and nurture the coming generations to the glory of God,” according to Brown.
Harris said the sanctuary fits into an overall plan of total church life that includes a traditional service in the sanctuary, an auditorium that seats 700 people for a contemporary service, a gym for fellowship suppers and morning bible classes, and a 5,000-square-foot meeting center.
“It is humbling and a joy to be the pastor at East Cooper Baptist Church,” Brown said. “It is a singular blessing to be able to work alongside the people at East Cooper Baptist Church.”
To learn more, visit www.eastcooperbaptist.com or call 843-856-3222.
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