The Bates family, who started off as sidekicks to the Duggars on 19 Kids and Counting and then got a spinoff called United Bates of America, are copying the Duggars in another way: opening their own church. The Duggars have church services held at their home, which probably helps them get some kind of tax exemption. Bates family patriarch Gil Bates, however, will be a) preaching to people other than his own family members and b) holding services somewhere besides his own house. Wife Kelly Bates wrote about the new life change on the family’s official blog:
About 18 years ago, Gil walked a little church aisle one Sunday morning when our first pastor, Mark Williams, preached a message: “Vessels of Honor.” Gil told the Lord that morning that he would preach whenever the Lord opened the doors of opportunity. Gil has never asked to speak anywhere, but over the years on occassion, God has allowed him to preach at various churches. In recent years, several families approached asking if God had been directing Gil to pastor a church. It’s certainly easier to “attend” church, so we hid from the idea of such a huge responsibility and undertaking. Nonetheless, Gil began speaking to Pastor Gwinn about the tugging at his heart. God has a way of prompting and prodding us to do something that we are in no ways capable of doing on our own! Pastor Gwinn, with his typical exhorting mannerisms, said, “Boy, hurry up and get to work! And make sure you start the services on time! Don’t be late!”
Three weeks ago, with the generous help of our loving Still Waters Baptist Church family we met at the brand new Bible Baptist Church for our very first service! We are temporarily meeting in the conference room of Holiday Inn Express in Clinton, Tn., but we know God has a wonderful future in store for us… through the mountain top experiences and through the valleys!
We’ve already seen His hand of provision in so many ways! Our Still Waters Church family and Pastor Gwinn donated our keyboard! Pastor Mike Samples of New Testament Baptist donated 100 hymnals! With mixed emotions of leaving our precious friends at Still Waters, we rejoice through our tears to see God faithfully walk us hand in hand, as little children, on this very new step of faith.
So, does this mean that whenever someone asks a Bates family member a theology question, they can answer it because they prayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night?