Cape Girardeau’s Bethany Baptist Church aims to serve and share Christ with its community

CAPE GIRARDEAU – The neighborhood church has special significance for the Bethany Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau. Shawn Wasson, pastor and board member of the Missouri Baptist Convention, described the church as “tucked away in a neighborhood.”

“We want to be a good neighbor,” Wasson said. “When I first came to church in 2003, the school next door, Alma Schrader Elementary School, called to see if there was an emergency if they could bring the students over. This collaboration started a wonderful partnership.”

Shawn Wasson

Now Bethany works year-round with the school’s faculty, staff and students. “We serve and encourage them by recognizing faculty birthdays and by doing something special at Christmas,” Wasson said. “Fran Austin coordinates the work with the school. We also offer an afternoon program for third and fourth grade girls. A van will pick them up from school and take them to the church for Fabulous Bible Investigating (FBI) led by Debbie Bowers.”

The church gives to the community by offering AWANA on Wednesday evenings. “Many churches of different denominations send their children to our program,” Wasson continued. “Donna Johnson leads this ministry, and it’s a ministry to the community.”

Church members are finding other ways to serve the community, Wasson said.

“We have a local crisis pregnancy program that supports multiple denominations and we have members who serve in that capacity,” he said. “We also plan to set up a ‘Women’s Options’ pantry to help young mothers. We are active with the Cape Girardeau Baptist Association and its ministries, for example we offer scholarships to the Peaceful Valley Camp.”

Wasson also mentioned the great work Bill and Kay Adams did with Disaster Relief.

“I think our participation in ministry by members of the community is one of Bethany’s strengths,” Wasson said. “When I was at Southern Seminary, Tom Rainer, one of my professors, spoke about ‘Unleashing the Laity,’ and our community believes in that principle.”

The Bethany Congregation encourages all members to be involved in the town, including their pastor. “I serve as a chaplain for the Cape County Police Department and Jackson County Police Department,” he said. “I also serve on the board of directors for Cape Girardeau Regional Airport and write a weekly column for the Southeast Missourian.”

Wasson writes about current events structured on the basis of Scripture. “We need to get out of the four walls of our church and actively participate in the culture,” he continued. “We need to make connections and build relationships with all people. We need to be missionary and conscious in community.”

This Sunday, Bethany is offering “Spring into Worship” with a special program featuring visitors from the Association. After the service, the congregation gathers for a meal.

“This is our way of getting the seniors back to worship,” Wasson said. “The food will be safe and taken care of.”

This special focus will also mark the beginning of a thirteen-week series of Church-sponsored radio spots. “We pray that these spots, made by the staff, ministry leaders and members of the congregation, will remind the congregation to return to worship at our church and others in the area.”

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