Coming together in Christ


The Johnson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church choir sings during the first worship service of the new year.

AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 3:01 p.m.
The Rev. Samuel Seales, pastor of Johnson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, urged his congregation to be holy all the time, and not just on Sunday mornings.
"Some of us just want to be holy at 11 o'clock on Sunday mornings," said Seales. "But I want to know about 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock or 6 o'clock in the evening."
Seales, preaching on New Year's Day, told his congregation that being holy means doing what is right according to the word of God.
The text of his sermon came from Exodus 3:1-5, and it dealt with holy ground.
"God's house is holy ground," he said. "In 2006, we got to understand this is holy ground. We must be mindful of how we act. Are you prepared to do in 2006 what God tells you to do?"
He reminded his congregation that God is still in the blessing business.
"The blessing is in his word," the 48-year-old Mobile, Ala., native said. "When I think about all that Jesus Christ has done for me, my soul cries out."
Seales is the eighth pastor of Johnson Chapel, and the seventh pastor, C.J. Johnson, is the Pastor Emeritus.
Johnson Chapel was founded in 1917 by a small group of northeast Gainesville families who wanted a church in their area. The first site was a white, wooden-frame building located just left of the current site at 1334 NE 4th Ave. The present-day building was constructed in the 1950s; and the first service was held on July 7, 1957. Johnson Chapel has grown from five families to 100 families.
The choir is led by Angela Terrell, and its renditions of spirituals such as "What a Mighty God We Serve" and "He's Done So Much for Me, I Can't Tell It All" stir up the soul like the original Jubilee Singers of Fisk University used to do more 125 years ago.
When one of the choir members sang "This is My Story, This is My Song," a woman in the congregation began to shout with joy as she raised her hands in the air praising God.
Seales has been pastoring for 16 years, with eight of those years at Johnson Chapel.
His greatest reward as a pastor is the love of the people, and seeing people doing the work of God, he said, adding that he wants Johnson Chapel to come together in Christ - mind, body and spirit.
"The more unified we are, the better off we will be and the more of an impact we will be able to have on the community," he said.
He went on to say that his toughest obstacle has been trying to get God's people to come together to do the work of God.
"Great challenges still exist," he said. "There are still people who want to do what they want to do, but we are getting closer each and every day."
Seales said the black church is still thriving and striving.
"God is doing a great job in the black church," he said. "Our job is to not allow Satan to disrupt what God is doing."
Linda Ellis said she has been attending services at Johnson Chapel for a couple of years and is thinking about joining.
"I just enjoy the service here, and the people are kind and down-to-earth," Ellis said.
Adrienne Davis, 27, home on a two-week leave from the U.S. Army, said she has been a member all of her life, and that the church has played a large role in her life.
On Seales' sermon, she said, "It was interesting, everything he was saying was true."

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