The term “rise of the Phoenix” is used as a symbol of rebirth from the ashes of the past or something new developing from something that no longer exists. In Greer, the rise of the Phoenix may be taking place as a church is dissolved, and the local association takes possession of the property for future ministry.
Echo Hills Baptist Church was served by a bivocational pastor, Fred Brown, for 26 years. When he first came to the church, average attendance was 45 to 50. In recent years, attendance at the church had dwindled to about 10 to 12 and was even less in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Something needed to happen. Brown, 76, was ready to retire and had encouraged the church to find a new pastor for the past three or four years, but they did not act on his idea. The church was an older congregation. Brown said, “We had more people over 80 than under 80. We did have three people under 70.”
He turned to Three Rivers Association Director of Missions Randy Bradley for advice. The two discussed how the church could create a legacy by giving the property and assets to the association, which, in turn, would see that the facilities were used for ministry.
“I told him the way the congregation could leave a legacy for future ministry would be to transfer the property and assets to our association. We could administrate the property and see that it would be used for kingdom work,” Bradley said.
Brown liked the idea and presented it to his church. A meeting with Bradley was arranged, where he shared the idea of a legacy ministry.
The church voted unanimously to deed the property to the association. On Dec. 8, the property and assets were legally transferred to Three Rivers Association. Brown said he “was kind of disappointed but also relieved.”
On Dec. 6, a motorcycle ministry used the property and had 35 in attendance.
Bradley noted, “It is important for churches in the South Carolina Baptist Convention to leave a legacy.” He believes church closings will increase in the coming years.