Perry congregation is at church’s heart

Sun News correspondentDecember 12, 2012 

PERRY -- Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church’s local congregation is one of 19 churches spread primarily across the Southeast that make up the denomination.

Because it’s located on the grounds of the denomination’s headquarters where Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church also operates a nursing home, campground and vacation/retirement community, the church has a unique mission.

“The primary mission of the local church here is to look out for the elderly people on the campground and the people in the nursing home,” said Floyd Hagan Sr., chairman of the governing board of Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church.

Hagan, 79, is a resident of Church Home Rehabilitation and Healthcare, the nursing home the church operates just north of Perry. Before moving to Middle Georgia, Hagan lived and ministered to the Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church congregation in Raleigh, N.C.

In many ways, members of the association of churches see the entire group as one church, making Floyd a leader among all the local congregations as well as a leader at the headquarters facilities.

However, Hagan said one distinction of the group is that ministry, even during worship services, is shared among members as they depend on the leadings of the Holy Spirit.

As time allows, anyone may begin a song as the congregation follows in by singing a capella.

Likewise, though someone may be designated to begin sharing scriptures during a service, others are encouraged to share scriptures and testimonies as well.

Nonetheless, there are those primarily recognized to minister to each church. In Perry, that is John and Janet Keldahl and Albert and Carolyn Williams. Janet Keldahl said the two couples tend to rotate months for responsibility of meetings, though she generally teaches the group’s Sunday morning Sunday School.

Albert Williams is caretaker of the group’s campground, and Carolyn Williams is a member of the association of churches’ board. Both John and Janet Keldahl work in the medical field in Middle Georgia.

Hagan said there are no paid ministers in the denomination.

Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church began as a movement in Virginia in 1892 when a group in the Methodist Episcopal Church and Wesleyan-Methodists holiness tradition broke away to begin preaching an emphasis on sanctification and holy living as a second blessing necessary for salvation.

In a history of the church co-written by Hagan with Harry Collins Jr., in whose grandparent’s living room the group reportedly began, Hagan described the church’s hallmark doctrine this way:

“Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church is an association of churches established primarily on the principle that salvation is accomplished by two separate works of the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The first work of grace is repentance toward God, or asking for forgiveness of the sins that we have committed. The second work is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or sanctification, which is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, eradicating the nature of sin.”

Hagan said after sins are forgiven, sanctification is sought and may be soon or long in coming. He said whether someone has received this second work of sanctification is determined primarily on their testimony as opposed to an outward determination by church officials. Only those who have received this work of sanctification are considered members of the church, though those seeking it and others interested in attending are welcome to worship at all gatherings.

Hagan said the church emphasizes a life -- and meetings -- led by the Holy Spirit. Janet Keldahl said that’s why such shared ministry in meetings is important.

“If people come and have prayed and are ready to give through their testimony or something from the Bible or with a song, then it makes for a great meeting,” she said. “If not, well then the meeting just isn’t what it should be.”

Keldahl said the local church does minister to the community, and there are those from the surrounding area who worship at Christ’s Sanctified Holy Church and have become members. Still, she said the focus is on hands-on ministry to those in the nursing home and in the Christ’s Sanctified community. She said it allows a clear expression of God’s call to love others practically.

“I think you serve the Lord by serving people and our command is to love our neighbor as our self,” she said.

The chapel the church meets in is located at the north end of the nursing home. Keldahl said it allows residents to easily come to services if they want to and enables members to go get those who wish to but need assistance.

Hagan said there are often about 50 or 60 people attending regular services, including members and those who come from the nursing home and community. There is a much larger worship facility on the grounds, referred to as the main sanctuary, that is primarily used during camp meetings.

Keldahl said the unique worship style with its joyful singing and various members sharing reinforces church doctrine.

“All that’s shared through the word of God and all that’s taught focus on the fact we need to repent and be born again,” she said. “It’s not just the church’s doctrine, but it’s the truth of the Bible. It’s about Christ in you. If I could present anything to the community it’s in those three words: Christ in you. That’s what makes you born again and that’s what makes us able to be free from sin.”

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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