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“Marshall Leaves Familiarity To Start New Church”

By Grace Thornton

Shannon Marshall just didn’t know if he could do it. From the depth of his heart, he wanted to. But he just wasn’t sure.

“It started about a year ago at the Mississippi Baptist Convention,” he said. “David Platt (pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.) was speaking, and he said you could retreat or you could respond in reaching people in our state and around the world.”

Marshall, then pastor of Steep Hollow Baptist Church in Poplarville, said he “sure would love” to respond. “But I didn’t know how I could step out on faith and do that,” he said.

Long story short – he did. He stepped out on faith and left the church he had been serving for nearly ten years.

“We had moved out of Steep Hollow’s parsonage after it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina. We built a house about 15 miles from the church in an area where we already had land,” Marshall said. “It’s a heavily unchurched area, and I started being burdened for those who don’t go to church.”

He got some guys together, shared his vision and decided to plant a church in that area.

“We decided to focus on loving God, loving people and loving the world,” Marshall said. “We wanted to start a church where walls didn’t hinder us and traditions didn’t box us in – whatever it took to be radical and reach the world for Christ.”

And The Beginnings Church began. They started meeting in September of 2009 at Malone Chapel on the Poplarville campus of Pearl River Community College, then later moved to the old Duval’s Restaurant building on Highway 11. The church has had 25-30 join and go through the new members’ class, Marshall said. On any given Sunday, the church may have between 60 and 120 attend and saw more than 200 participants at their Fall “Trunk or Treat” festival.

“They have made a lot of contacts, and though regular participation and attendance is slow coming, we are praying that it will gel and reach the unchurched of Pearl River County,” said Carl Myers, associational missions director for Pearl River Baptist Association. “There are definite needs in that geographic area, and Shannon has a vision to meet them.”

In January, The Beginnings Church is aiming to start home Bible studies as mission points to reach the surrounding neighborhoods, Marshall said.

“Every home is a mission point, and every neighborhood a mission field. We are trying to equip those who are already there to reach their friends and neighbors,” he explained.

Church plants like The Beginnings Church are just one of the ministries supported by the Margaret Lackey State Missions Offering. For more information about the offering and its work, visit http://www.mbcb.org/mission_strategy/missions.aspx. For more information about The Beginnings Church, visit www.thebeginningschurch.net.