Fair Grove, Missouri – When the Rev. Dan Smith graduated from seminary he was enthused to take on the world and begin his ministry. His first church call was to the 125 member Fair Grove Community Church (FGCC). He moved to Fair Grove with his wife and two children in August 2005 giving no thought to a potential church conflict. He had a vision to impact the greater Fair Grove area for Christ.
Smith followed Rev. Sherman Baxter who retired after serving the church for 35 years.
Several months after taking the church he proposed using PowerPoint or as he said (later to his regret) “taking the church into the 21st century.” His plan was to use the PowerPoint system to help with congregational singing and he also envisioned reinforcing his sermon points and placing illustrative photos up during his messages.
This created a church firestorm that Smith never would have imagined.
The opposition to his PowerPoint proposal was led by Cecil “Butch” Snyder who has been a part of the church since he was saved in the mid seventies. Butch had been in the local Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang and had been delivered from drugs and alcohol. He was now one of the three deacons in the church.
His opposition stemmed from a concern that in using PowerPoint the church was “drifting toward liberalism.” They had been using the overhead projector when he first came to the church and now were on their latest model, purchased in 1999. It had always worked fine as long as he could remember. Why fix something that’s not broken was his reasoning.
In an exclusive interview with our ALFN reporter he stated, “If the overhead projector was good enough for Peter and Paul it should be good enough for us.”
Also opposing the change is Sissy Jones, who since 1978 has cataloged the transparency sheets and now maintains a large file of all songs the church regularly sings arranged alphabetically, topically, by Scripture reference and by date going back to 1969. The sheets are kept in a special file cabinet the church purchased in 1985. Some of the transparency sheets are yellowed and brittle requiring special care. Especially precious to Sissy (shown filing in the photo to the left) is the original transparency sheet of the very first song the church sang using the original overhead projector, “This Is The day That The Lord Has Made.” Sissy normally spends about 10 hours a week maintaining the extensive transparency library but sees it as a “labor of love.”
Maude Ferkfinder is concerned for her son, Jimmy, who dropped out of high school and is a little “slow.” Since 1993 has had a ministry sitting beside the projector during services and placing the lyrics on top when the congregation is singing a particular song. She’s concerned Jimmy won’t be able to able to have a role in what Pastor Smith is calling “the PowerPoint team” and wonders what effect this might have on his esteem and desire to attend church and continue to serve the Lord. When speaking to our ALFN reporter she wept openly concerning the stress the situation has brought. “We must not stop caring for others” she tearfully said.
The treasurer of the church, Wally Barker, is not necessarily opposed to the PowerPoint transition but is troubled as a “good steward” that the current overhead projector is not that old. When interviewed he pointed out that, “We had the previous overhead model for fifteen years so I reckon this one still has lots of life. Also we have three spare bulbs and I’m told they won’t work in the PowerPoint projector and we also have a practically full box of blank transparency sheets. What would we do with them? This looks like it be like our mimeograph situation five years ago”
Frank Sherman, who is among the more studied in the church, takes issue “in all due respect” with Deacon Butch’s assertion regarding the overhead being used by Peter and Paul. He is almost certain they would have used one of the old green hymnals stored under the stairway in the church basement.
Pastor Smith, although flabergasted at the controversy, has temporarily withdrawn his PowerPoint proposal for the sake of church unity but is confident he will in time win over the support he needs.
In the mean time another controversy is brewing in the church concerning the recently installed automatic scent distributors in the restrooms. Deacon Butch asserts that Peter and Paul would never have approved of such devices.