Religion

Troy University football scholarship led away from football and into ministry

Bishop Emmett W. Bright has been pastor of Christ Temple All Cultures Ministries for 21 years.
Bishop Emmett W. Bright has been pastor of Christ Temple All Cultures Ministries for 21 years. Special to The Telegraph

Christ Temple All Cultures Ministries’ roots go back to a south Bibb County peach orchard where it was originally located and known as Christ Temple Apostolic Church.

Founded by Vernon Ray Brite in 1982, it was Brite who moved the congregation from the orchard to a building off Pio Nono Avenue on Hollis Road in the early 1990s.

Brite was pastor until the arrival of the church’s second leader, Bishop Emmett W. Bright, who took the pastoral role in 1997.

“Moving the congregation here was a tremendous accomplishment for Brite and the congregation,” Bright said. “I came here 21 years ago this month, in March, and the church remained under the original name until 2004 when we changed it from Christ Temple Apostolic Church to Christ Temple All Cultures Ministries.”

Bright said changing the church name, and dropping the Apostolic denominational reference, came from a desire to see people reached in the love of Christ and drawn to scripture rather than be attracted to — or turned off by — a denominational moniker.

He said it also reflected a distancing from certain denominational stances while retaining others.

“One of the battles I was dealing with was seeing the Body of Christ come together in unity,” he said. Bright said while he recognized there were many fine men of God within the Apostolic denomination, he also recognized there were many outside it that he desired fellowship with.

He said as a reflection of his desire to see unity in the church and across racial, socio-economic and other lines, Christ Temple, predominantly black, became involved with activities such as regular unity services centered around Jesus Christ with a neighboring predominantly white church, High Point Church, which is also on Hollis Road.

The two congregations worship together regularly and knock on doors together in their neighborhood offering to pray for residents and invite them to services.

“Christ Temple is a Bible-centered, Bible-believing ministry embracing all cultures,” Bright said. “Our mission statement says we’re to build people up and be committed to proclaiming redemption and reconciliation through faith in Jesus Christ to all cultures. By that we’re referring to all backgrounds, nationalities, races and cultures, whether gang-bangers, drug users, average citizens or those at the top of society. We want to see God glorified, his saints edified and the lost evangelized. Jesus is God’s means of salvation and even though we may question or debate points of doctrine and certain beliefs among ourselves, I believe those who embrace Jesus will be led by him where he will guide us.”

Bright is from Lawtey, Fla., a small town he said lies between Jacksonville and Gainesville. As a young man he dreamed of playing professional football and to that end obtained a walk-on spot with the Troy University (Ala.) football squad as a free safety. He also received an accompanying scholarship.

But plans for a future in football were cut short.

“In my second season I had a different sort of encounter,” he said. “I had an encounter with the Gospel and the Holy Spirit that resulted in my leaving football and following the Lord and his call on my life to preach. At Troy I encountered God and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was a new beginning for me.”

Bright said he read his Bible more and it came alive. He said it was through the influence of fellow athletes and connection with an Apostolic Pentecostal church in Troy that he responded to a call to ministry.

“Everything seemed to have gotten amped up after that,” he said.

His association with the Troy church drew Bright to an emphasis on what the group called the “Acts 2:38 experience,” meaning an emphasis on repentance — or faith in Jesus — and baptism in water and receiving the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Where many Christians believe in each of the three aspects, Bright said the group held each was required for true salvation and Christian fellowship. Bright said though he still holds to the validity of each, he said and demonstrates he has a wider acceptance of others in the body of Christ now.

“I let God be the judge,” he said. “I trust he will lead each of us in spiritual growth as we follow him and love as he did.”

Bright has served churches in Florida and Georgia. In 2006 he received a bachelor’s degree in organization and administration from Apostolic International University of Grace and Truth, Galloway, Ohio, and a doctoral degree in 2015 in same area from the same institution. Bright said he is working to establish a partnership with his alma mater to offer degrees locally.

Christ Temple has a number of established ministries for children, youth, adults, men and women. He said through prayer and action the church hopes to be part of revitalization of their area of Macon, including through education and encouragement of entrepreneurs and commerce.

Bright is also involved in mentoring others in ministry, including raising up young ministers to plant daughter-sister congregations. Bright and Christ Temple began such a daughter-sister church, Greater Overcoming Faith Ministries, in east Macon. It is pastored by Bruce Curry, who had been mentored by Bright at Christ Temple.

“He was mentored here and sent out from here with a number of others from our church to start the new work,” Bright said. “They’re celebrating 10 years of ministry in east Macon. They’re an autonomous congregation but still connected through our relationship together. We hope to see more of this.”

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

Christ Temple All Cultures Ministries

Address: 3112 Hollis Road, Macon

Phone: 478-784-7732

Worship: Sunday school 9:45 a.m., worship 11 a.m.

Leadership: Bishop Emmett W. Bright

Website: www.ctacministry.com

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