On May 22, Heritage Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, made a historic step toward reaching its neighbors. The church called Fredrick L. Harris Sr. to be its minister of one mile missions.
“We want to become a church that looks more like our neighborhood, and we want to become a church that looks more like heaven,” Pastor Teman Knight told the congregation during the Sunday morning service. “To do that, there are people around us who need to be reached with the gospel. We have an opportunity today to make a statement about how serious we are about doing that.”
A while back Heritage Baptist declared the one-mile radius around it their missions field. They reached out to the schools and the businesses. But they hadn’t made contact house to house yet.
Reflecting the neighborhood
That was a goal for Knight — he and the church wanted the one-mile area to know the church loves them. They also wanted their church — which is predominantly white — to reflect its neighborhood, which is home to many African American families.
Neal Hughes, director of missions for Montgomery Baptist Association and a Heritage member, said Knight asked him if he knew anyone who could help lead that effort, and Hughes immediately thought of Harris.
“Fredrick is a wonderful, godly brother God brought into the Southern Baptist life some years ago,” Hughes said. “He had the desire to start a Southern Baptist church and be a part of a family that believed in missions to serve across the street and around the world.”
Harris left Abraham Missionary Baptist Church “in good hands” after 18 years, Hughes said, then started Bread of Life Temple in 2019. From its beginning Bread of Life set out to love the community by providing food, clothing and COVID-19 vaccines and meeting other needs.
“In doing so, they planted gospel seeds, and he became very actively involved in our association and became a friend to Teman and the church family at large,” Hughes said. “Fredrick has a great heart and his new role is not only going to accentuate a real intentional, deliberate effort to dig deeper into our one mile, but also they are going to start an internship eventually where they will train other African American pastors to plant churches and to become associate pastors of other churches who are looking to do this in a revitalizational way.”
Harris said ministry is his passion, and he did a lot of research as he considered the call to come to Heritage.
“People told me, ‘When you come here, you’re going to experience a loving church, a church that’s serious about missions, a church that’s ready to reach that one mile. You’re going to experience a church that wants to look like Christ,’” he said. “I’ve seen that since I’ve been here.”