The community is invited to New Fellowship Baptist Church, 3706 S. Cherry St., in celebration of the church’s 11th anniversary. The Rev. Thirland and Helen McKissic are the pastor and wife of New Fellowship Baptist Church.

The anniversary services will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 5. The guest minister will be the Rev. Jimmy Fisher, interim pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church.

“In November 2014 our church began a building fund to purchase a new building trusting for God’s provision to complete the task,” a spokesman said in a news release. “In the fall of 2016, New Fellowship began to actively pursue buying land to build a church or to buy an existing church. During this process, several offers were made to purchase land so that we could begin the building process and an offer to purchase a vacant existing church was made as well, but there were road blocks and this was to no avail.”

“There were even attempts at merging with other churches and for some reason that only God knew, it just didn’t work out,” the spokesman said. “We soon came to realize that God had other plans. In the spring of 2017, Pastor McKissic received a phone call from the Associational Missionary of the Harmony Baptist Association. He informed Pastor McKissic that a church in the Harmony Baptist Association was dissolving and inquired if New Fellowship would be interested in the church building.”

“After a few meetings with the board of Forest Park Baptist Church, they decided to ‘Pass the Baton’ to New Fellowship Baptist Church in order to continue God’s Kingdom work. In this meeting, New Fellowship received a 10,000 square foot church building and two homes, completely debt free. We rejoiced because we knew that only God could do this, and it was marvelous in our eyes,” the spokesman said.

According to an article in The Commercial in June 2017, the transfer of the facility to New Fellowship was cause for celebration.

“The pews inside the white church at 3706 South Cherry Street were jammed with people Sunday as Lynn King, former music director at Forrest Park Baptist Church, held out a baton—half-green, half-purple—to Thirland McKissic, pastor of New Fellowship Baptist Church. The green half of the baton stood for Forrest Park, the purple for New Fellowship,” according to the article.

“I want to pass this from our church, to your church,” King said to standing ovation. “The two men shook hands behind a lectern in a sanctuary, under a vaulted ceiling of gleaming varnished wood, where King and his fellow members had worshipped for decades.

“I accept this baton with great honor,” McKissic said in the article.

“With the passing of the baton, the congregation of Forrest Park celebrated the transfer of its church property to New Fellowship. McKissic characterized the day not as a simple exchange of property, but as a transfer of energy toward a purpose shared by two congregations with a common faith,” according to the article.