08 Sep 2011
- Written by Danny Tennial
Special to the Tri-State Defender
New Direction Christian Church will celebrate its 10th anniversary throughout the month of September with television and community events.
The church will release a 30 minute documentary that will air on WLMT (CW 30) at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 10) and again at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.
And on Sept.17, New Direction will form a three-mile prayer chain line from Hickory Hill to Riverdale Road.
New Direction Christian Church held its first worship service at 5777 Winchester on Sept. 9, 2001. Dr. Frank Thomas, the pastor of Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church, commissioned 60 members to pioneer the new church in Hickory Hill with Dr. Stacy Spencer. Explosive growth followed.
“On our very first day of worship we had over two hundred people at our service. There were more people than seats,” said Spencer, now known nationwide as a spellbinding orator and trendsetting young pastor.
His unorthodox methods for reaching souls for Christ triggered New Direction’s membership to exceed more than 15,000 members. When he accepted “God’s call” to pastor in Hickory Hill, Spencer’s intention was to go after those who didn’t attend church.
“We wanted those individuals who were marginalized, unwanted and unchurched. We wanted the spotted sheep,” he said.
The evangelistic zeal of the young pastor attracted hundreds of young professional couples and single members to New Direction. The style of worship and music appealed to a generation that grooved to new jack swing and hip hop.
“We try to become the trend and not chase them,” said Spencer.
New Directions will end its monthlong celebration on Sept. 24 with Septemberfest. It will be an event free to the public from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. at Winridge Park. There will be food and retail vendors, entertainment, contests and activities for children.
September plans also include details of a New Direction initiative revitalizing Hickory Hill. The church has purchased a 43-acre plot of real estate, with plans to build a Power Center Academy for middle and high school students, a performing arts center, a wellness center, housing and retail.
Radical to some, transformer to others
Dr. Stacy Spencer
Tri-State Defender: Dr. Spencer when did you accept your call into the ministry?
Dr. Stacy Spencer: I accepted my call into the ministry in 1988. I was a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at the time.
TSD: What has been your greatest challenge as a pastor?
Dr. Spencer: Helping my people through this recession. I started to see my young congregation struggle as many of them lost their jobs. When the church members are hurting the church feels it spiritually, economically and financially.
TSD: What has been one of your favorite highlights as a pastor?
Dr. Spencer: I have a lot of highlights. One of my greatest highlights was being invited to the White House by President Obama. I was one of only 12 pastors invited for a national prayer breakfast with the nation’s first African-American president. We discussed how faith leaders could help President Obama with some of the issues our nation faces.
TSD: How do you think people see Dr. Spencer?
Dr. Spencer: I think people view me as a radical young man who uses unconventional methods.
TSD: How do you see yourself?
Dr. Spencer: I see myself as one who is fearful of God. I believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God and as a source for his people.
TSD: How do you want to be remembered?
Dr. Spencer: I want to be remembered as a transformer. I want people to say that Dr. Stacy Spencer transformed Hickory Hill back into a place where people wanted to live and transformed people who in turn transformed a community.