ANDERSON — Little heads bobbed up and down. Smiles spread from face to face. Music played, and children danced. It was music time during Vacation Bible School at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Anderson.
The church had a full house for the annual event, with as many as 160 kids, youth and adults swarming the church facility to have fun and hear a message while they were at it.
“We use every bit of the space,” said Martha Woodall, director of the VBS program.
“I have ‘friendship’ on the marquee,” said Martha’s husband, Dr. Edgar Woodall, who pastors the church. “I think it has paid off.”
With a theme of “Rock It Out: Praising God without limits,” kids sang, danced, played musical instruments and even made them. They did art projects, snacked and played games outside. The fun was one part of the objective.“We take this time to teach the children about Christ,” said Martha, noting that for some children it’s the first time they are introduced to the topic.
Kids come to Friendship’s VBS from different walks. Some are already part of the Friendship congregation, but many of the children came to the event from the surrounding neighborhood, or beyond.
“They’re from all over the city,” said Woodall. “Some don’t go to church at all.”
A team of about 30 volunteers graciously managed the crowd of kids, demonstrating some of the precepts they were teaching. They also kept things moving, and kept it fun. And everyone went home with a Rock It Out T-shirt designed by youth volunteer Jalisha Cameron.
“We have a blessed time … We just have a grand time,” said Dr. Woodall.
Raised in the church
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was founded back in 1925. The church has been at its current location on 16th Street since 1973. Woodall knows just what it feels like to be a kid at the church.
“I grew up in the church, starting out as a choir boy,” said Dr. Woodall, now 64. After attending Sunday school, he eventually started teaching it. Still, Woodall describes himself as a late bloomer in terms of his preaching career.Woodall married Martha in 1980. With second marriages for both of them, they each brought children to the family.
“We did the blended thing real well,” said Woodall. While raising five kids, he worked for more than 31 years in the factory at plant services for GM. He also went to school.
“My first love was law, but I didn’t realize I was going to be carrying God’s law. I thought it was man’s law,” said Woodall. He studied a pre-law program, earning a bachelor's degree in sociology from Anderson University in 1985.
After that, he began to realize his path lay in a different direction. He earned a master of religious education in 1989, then a master of divinity in 1990, and finally a master of arts in religion in 1991 — all from AU. Woodall later went on to get his doctorate in 2002 from Trinity College and Seminary in Indiana.It was 22 years ago that Friendship found itself in need of a new pastor. With experienced pastors and ministers from all over the country under consideration, Woodall threw his hat in the ring.
“I just did what God told me to do,” said Woodall. “We’ve been here ever since. There’s been some ups. There’s been some downs.”
Woodall describes Friendship by simply saying, “The love is here.” He said the church lives up to its name, noting that at every Sunday service, “We share in the passing of friendship, love and peace.” Woodall also noted, “I think I’m doing some preaching that’s helping the community.”
The church has Sunday school at 9 a.m., with worship service at 10:40 a.m. Bible class is held on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Martha said the church fills up with about 150 or 200 people on Sundays, and newcomers are always welcome. The church is located at 1540 W. 16th St.
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