WARNER ROBINS -- “This is a church of a million hugs,” said Troy Wynn, pastor of Freedom Church. “We reach out, we love people. We don’t have a hug-team whose job it is to greet people, we just have a hug spirit here. It’s just part of who we are.”
Wynn said Freedom Church, almost seven years old, was started in Perry as Uniting God’s Kingdom Family Life Church. It moved to Warner Robins two years ago and moved two months ago to an expanded facility in the shopping center at the corner of Moody Road and Feagin Mill Road.
“That name was a mouthful,” he said. “Changing it to Freedom Church fits us better but the original name did reflect our desire for uniting people and being a family. We want to be something a little different from what’s usual in the South in terms of teaching style, approach to diversity and to building community inside and outside the church. We want to reflect all aspects of our community, all people no matter their race, background or situation in life.”
Wynn said this awareness of church and community is mirrored in his teaching style.
“I’m an African-American pastor and typically that means speaking with a lot of jubilation with a keyboard backing it up. My teaching is more simple. I try to teach simply, practically, with humor and in a more conversational way. I like to apply God’s word practically to life, stressing content over style.”
Wynn said he mainly teaches topically, often looking at what’s going on in the news then showing how truth from the Bible applies to it.
“You don’t have to make the Bible relevant -- it is relevant,” he said. “It’s very relevant to the situations we find ourselves in. You just have to bring its timeless truths out and apply them.”
For example, in the Thanksgiving season Wynn provided members with materials of things to be thankful for, such as God’s enduring love, grace freely given through Jesus Christ, fellow believers and a loving God who is good, faithful and just.
And then there are news items such as the racial tension and turbulence in Ferguson, Missouri. Wynn addressed the issue in sermons, a gathering at Warner Robins City Hall and in town hall meetings at the church.
“It’s a critical issue on everyone’s mind,” he said. “It’s far away but affects us. The Bible addresses issues surrounding it and we’re trying give direction. In the African-American community, I’m hearing a lot of frustration, aggravation and negative ideas encouraging disrespect for police and a lack of trust for the legal system. We don’t go along with the ideology of rebellion and anarchy but are calling for unity as we allow the legal system to operate and trust God to bring justice where we feel there’s injustice. And we work diligently and peaceably for valid, needed change.”
Wynn said as he’s reached out to others, others have reached out to him, including the Warner Robins Police Department, which is talking with him about working together in the community.
“The Scripture comes to mind that tells us to humble ourselves and pray and let God bring healing,” Wynn said. “We need that. And yes, it also says we’re to turn from our wicked ways. I see that including the injustice in institutions as well as rioting. We’re all to show humility and find solutions. March, protest peaceably -- all that’s fine and draws from the template of Dr. (Martin Luther) King. But rioting and looting is not acceptable. There are corrections to be made on both sides.”
Wynn said his desire to draw on Bible truths to meet modern needs shaped his coming Christmas series, The Toy Story. He said it looks at Christ and the joys of the season along with the commercialization of Christmas with its dangers.
“Some people feel depression and pressure to overspend to buy toys that will be broken in no time at all,” he said.
Wynn said Jesus, plain and simple, is the focus of Freedom Church not only at Christmas but all year.
Wynn, a native of Dooly County, and his wife, Letitia, have been married 27 years and have three children. Though he serves Freedom Church full time, he also works as a graphic designer, motivational speaker and life coach. He said he often works with area colleges, universities and Houston County public schools. He said all his endeavors involve a respect for people.
“At Freedom Church, we see it’s important to teach God’s word and let people bring it to their own life,” he said. “It’s my job to equip people, not whip people. We won’t disrespect you. We believe in holiness but want people to make better choices out of their own desire rather than because they’re forced to.”
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.