By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
“We’re a church for all people. Everybody’s welcome,” said Pastor Rick. The Craigs shepherded the Old Country Full Gospel Church in Pendleton for the last six years. They founded the church in 2007 after leaving Center Chapel Church in Middletown, where Rick pastored for a stint. They have a small, dedicated congregation, but in seeking to grow the church, a move to Anderson made sense.
“I feel like we were supposed to be here in Anderson,” said Pastor Rick. In the process, the church name was tweaked, dropping the words ‘old country,’ to be more encompassing to all generations, races and walks of life.“The vision is to see people turn to the Lord,” Pastor Rick said. “We want to try to reach out.”
Part of that reaching out will include appealing to the younger generations, and establishing a food pantry. “We just have a desire to help,” said Lauren. The church’s new location used to be known as Petticoat Junction, but has been empty for about four years. People have been peeking in lately to see what’s happening at the spot. “They’re glad to see there’s a church in here,” said Lauren.“We’ve still got a lot to do,” said Pastor Rick.
Clearly, though, they’re quickly settling in, and anxious to put their space to good use. Pews are set up in the comfortable sanctuary area. They plan to use one of their rooms for fellowship and as a classroom. “It feels kind of like home,” said Lauren. She noted they still need a small freezer and electric stove.
Within a matter of weeks, the church's 20-member congregation has already grown by one with the arrival of 86-year old Warner Lane of Anderson. “They’re just getting started, and I’m trying to help where I can… God’s in charge,” said Lane. He enjoys the music, too. “They can sing – they’re good.”
Pastor Rick brings a lifelong dedication to his ministry.
“I’ve been a minister since I was 15, traveling and ministering in churches,” said Pastor Rick. He noted that his father was a churchman. The pastor, now 50, and Lauren, 56, were married almost 18 years ago. The two met through the Indiana Gospel Music Association, participating in talent shows. Rick played guitar and Lauren was a soloist.
“I’m contemporary style and he was Southern Gospel, and I had to learn to blend with him,” said Lauren. That blending extended to their full complement of children, Rick brought four and Lauren brought three into the marriage. “They all got along,” said Lauren.
One of the now-grown kids, Chris, and his family attend Full Gospel Church. Chris also serves as sound man and plays bass and drums.
When he’s not ministering, Pastor Rick holds down the full-time job he’s had for 24 years, working as an auto body man in Anderson. You might spot him on the scooter he takes downtown every day in good weather.
Sunday activities at Full Gospel Church start at 10 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts and a little fellowship before worship service starts at 10:30 a.m. Expect song, prayer and preaching.
“We’re just kind of down-to-earth,” said Lauren. “We’d just love to see people come,” said Pastor Rick. Casual dress works at Full Gospel. The couple notes that when they say it’s a church for all people, they mean it, and that includes people of different races and mixed race couples.
“Our purpose is to bring people’s souls to the Lord,” said Lauren.
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