WARNER ROBINS -- It was Super Bowl Sunday. The date was Feb. 4, 2007.
Mack McCullough and his wife, Freida, might remember that the Indianapolis Colts played the Chicago Bears in the big game. Or that it was played in Miami, in Mack’s home state of Florida. They might be reminded of the historical significance of Super Bowl XLI, the first between two African-American head coaches (Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith).
They also might recall that Billy Joel sang the national anthem and Prince performed at halftime, and that it was the first-ever Super Bowl played in the rain.
But they mostly remember the events of that Sunday morning, when the church they now co-pastor, Word in Season Ministries, held its first worship service.
There were 19 people in the congregation in the auditorium at Central Georgia Technical College.
It is now the second-most memorable Sunday in church history. It has been surpassed by another kind of super Sunday four weeks ago, when Word In Season Ministries moved into its new building at 1520 Feagin Mill Road.
It was a giant leap for the church, which first began meeting as part of a Bible study at the McCullough’s home. They spent seven years filling seats on Sunday mornings at the technical school. Baptisms were held in swimming pools at local motels and apartment complexes.
On June 22, church members held a brief ceremony at Central Georgia Tech, then formed a caravan with a police escort to travel the 4.6 miles for their inaugural services in their new home.
“With faith in God, nothing is impossible,” said Mack. “Now I’m ready to see what God wants to do next.”
In the meantime, Freida said they are still “going around pinching themselves” in the brand-spanking new building.
The nondenominational church, with a membership roll of about 350 members, derives its name from Isaiah 50:4 in the Old Testament.
“The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He wakenth morning by morning. He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”
“That’s what we do,” said Freida. “We minister a word in season to people wherever they are in the season of their life.”
(So, “season” has nothing to do with football season, either.)
Mack grew up on a farm in Reddick, Flordia, between Ocala and Gainesville. His father was a second-generation Pentecostal minister. He joined the Air Force in 1989, when he was 18.
Freida grew up in an Air Force family in South Carolina and South Dakota. Her father was transferred to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, where she met Mack in the base chapel. She was singing in church. He thought she might be married. He was in a men’s group with her father. They were married 11 months after they started dating.
They left Germany in 1995 when Mack was transferred to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where he was assigned to special duty and presidential support. Both the McCullough children -- Eryn, 17, and Shane, 15 -- were born during the time they were at Andrews.
He was “called” to the ministry in 1997, and always envisioned himself establishing a church in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.
But he was transferred to Robins Air Force Base with the 5th Mobile Communications Group in 2000. Freida starting going to real estate school to get her license.
“It wasn’t like I just woke up on day and said I was going to preach,” Mack said. “I was ordained in the Church of God in Christ. It was somewhat of a struggle for me to come here. I really didn’t want to move from the Washington, D.C., area since that was where I discovered my calling and came up with the name. I thought that was the place for me to do it.”
The McCulloughs first attended New Hope International Church in Warner Robins.
In early 2007, they began meeting with a few friends for Bible study in their home. For several weeks, the adults met in the living room while the children played in the garage.
“We didn’t call ourselves a church right away,” said Mack. “It was a gathering of like-minded church people.”
Mack contacted a friend who has been an Air Force chaplain and asked him to mentor him as he sought to establish a new church.
It was a strategic move to determine where the church would meet. “We were looking for a place outside the living room,” Mack said, laughing.
They first inquired about nearby Lake Joy Elementary. But the school would only permit them to use the building for six months.
It was Freida’s idea to approach Central Georgia Tech. She had attended a Central Georgia Board of Realtors awards banquet the year before and was impressed with the facility.
Another leap of faith came in January 2008 when the church, only a year old with less than 100 members, purchased 15 acres of a 60-acre tract on Feagin Mill Road. It was the middle of a field surrounded by pecan orchards.
It would be another three years before subdivisions were built around the property and the road pushed through.
They broke ground last October. Mack used his drafting skills and came up with a floor plan. The building is 14,500 square feet and functional, with a sanctuary that can be utilized for future expansion, classroom space, a fellowship hall, offices and a book store.
Mack preaches three times a month, and Freida every second Sunday. She also serves as the worship leader.
Mack was especially pleased his parents -- Warren and Louise McCullough -- were able to attend the dedication service four weeks ago. His father, now retired, pastored three Church of God churches in central Florida.
“My father is 81, and they don’t travel much, so it was special to have them,” he said.
Yes, it was just like Super Sunday.
Contact Ed Grisamore at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.