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Church to offer contemporary services

A Jemison area church will begin offering an alternative worship service starting in June.

Union Grove Baptist Church will hold a contemporary service on the first and third Sundays of each month from 9 to 9:50 a.m. The church will continue to offer its traditional service time each Sunday at 11 a.m.

Church Pastor Matt Hilyer said the church doesn’t want to break tradition but also wants to be able to embrace change.

“Union Grove is the most diverse church I’ve ever pastored,” Hilyer said. ” We have a pretty good working environment of all ages from babies through senior adults.”

A look in the church’s fellowship hall reveals a wall full of highchairs, a sign that future generations are a significant part of the growth. Upstairs, a youth room features contemporary instruments and modern lighting.

Hilyer said the church’s largest segment consists of people age 55 and younger. He wants services to retain elements that are important to all age groups.

“Our church focus is primarily on its children’s program and its youth,” he said, adding, “Union Grove continues to emphasize our past and look upon it very favorably.”

The contemporary service, Hilyer said, will include drums, guitars and keyboards — in contrast to the choral harmonies and Southern gospel style that will continue to be part of the traditional service.

Todd Parker, formerly of the popular local gospel group Holy Destiny, will be leading the music during the traditional service, while youth and worship leader Scott Gothard will lead the contemporary praise team.

Hilyer calls the new service a “step of faith.”

“We don’t want to call it an experiment,” he said. “We want to call it a step of faith to offer all of our people here an opportunity to worship in an environment that’s comfortable to them.”

The church will not hold evening services on the first and third Sundays, in order to allow more family time. Evening services will continue on second and fourth Sundays, however.

“Churches need to be family friendly,” Hilyer said. “We’re trying to meet people right where they are.”

Hilyer said the goal of morning services on second and fourth Sundays will be to achieve a balance in which everyone will benefit from the service.

On fifth Sundays the church plans to have a special evangelistic emphasis in the evening, such as a guest speaker, guest singers or testimonials.

The gospel message, however, will remain the same, according to Hilyer.

“A gospel message will be preached and an invitation given at the end of every service,” he said.