At Antioch Baptist Church, music enhances every aspect of a service.
“Music just lifts you up,” said Antioch Pastor Vernell Racy. “Singing, music and praying go together. Everyone likes some type of music. Even if the preacher [isn’t good at preaching], people go [to church] because they like the music.”
Racy grew up in a family that celebrated their love of God through music.
When he was traveling the world performing gospel music with his family, he never imagined a day he’d call Tahlequah home.
The Racy Brothers make their first recording in 1999. Their mother and her sisters had a music group before that, named the “McLettic Stars.”
“My grandmother was director of the church choir at Union Baptist in Dumas, Ark.,” Racy said. “Coming up, they had a singing and quartet groups performing there.”
As for preaching, he takes his cues from God.
“God gave the ability to give a sermon to me,” he said. “The first time, I wrote a bunch of notes and dropped them. I was too embarrassed to pick them up. God gives me what he wants me to say.”
Studying his Bible also helps him prepare for sharing the word of God.
“Like Ezekial, I open my mouth and God speaks through me,” Racy said.
Love one another is the message any time he gets up to speak.
“We don’t judge, we accept you where you are,” he said. “We don’t expect you to come in knowing. We all grow together. ‘Love one another’ is the greatest commandment.”
Racy became pastor at Antioch two years ago this July 8. He’d preached there as a visiting pastor several times, so the congregation was acquainted with him.
His wife, Vickie, had been a part of the church since 2004, and shares her husband’s love of singing. The couple met at the church, and have been married two years.
“I love God, I love music and I love people,” Vernell said.
The members are all very kind and loving to each other, he said.
“My members make me feel like I’m special, I have lovely members,” he said. “Since I’ve been here, they take the attitude that no one who comes through the door is a stranger. When one of us hurts, all of us hurt.”
Vickie appreciates the fellowship at Antioch.
“From the first Sunday I walked in this building, I felt a connection,” she said. “It felt like I was coming home. That never changed.”
Friends, family and fellowship are highly valued, but their priority to put God first is emphasized.
“We all come here looking for the almighty God. It’s not about the pastor or musicians, it’s about God,” Racy said.
And he’ll tell how blessed he is.
“There were only a few of us when we started, at first we only had women here, Evelyn Ross, Lee Sallis, Betty Brown, Vickie and me. Now we have families and kids and college students, 60 to 80 every Sunday,” he said.
Wednesday night Bible studies are interactive and everyone is welcome to participate.
“We all come together to study. Our outline that was going to take six weeks lasted four months because everyone was into discussing,” Vickie said. “You don’t have that freedom every place, but you do here.”
Another area where the church has grown and is blessed, he said, is they have men in the congregation.
“We’ve ordained one deacon, Richard Taylor, and are about to ordain two more on July 7, Tyree Parker and Bill Leigh,” he said. “It means a lot to me, because God is moving forward. And we’ve baptized a lot of new members.”
The church scripture is John 9:4, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.”
Youth and teens are an especially important outreach to the church. Praise dancers, speakers who are youth and who encourage youth visit on first Sundays.
“God is blessing us,” Racy said. “We have colleges that bring youth and local college students. Some come from Fort Smith and Oklahoma City to perform. God gives our kids things to do. Somehow we have to reach our kids and help young members.”
Along with Sunday morning worship and Wednesday evening Bible study, the church hosts first Sunday as Youth Day which includes a luncheon, third Sunday is the Lord’s Supper – or Communion Sunday, and the fifth Sunday is spent in worship with other churches.
Vacation Bible School will be held July 23-27 with River Valley Church at that church, followed by a combined church picnic July 28.
A Revival will be held June 12-14 at 7 each evening, featuring Rev. Terry Kirts, of Four Mile Branch Baptist Church in Fort Gibson, June 12; Rev. Curtis Leland, of Wagoner First Baptist Church, on June 13; and Rev. Mac Jackson, of Vian First Baptist Church.
“God has blessed me since I’ve been here, and continues to bless our church and congregation,” Racy said. “Once people come to Antioch, they won’t want to go anyplace else because the love and the fellowship is all about God.”
At Antioch Baptist Church, music enhances every aspect of a service.
Red Fern Festival offers family fun
Tahlequah’s Red Fern Festival offers attendees a stroll back in time to old-fashioned family fun.
It’s a way to show children how their great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents lived and played, and tell stories about, “the good ol’ days.” And it’s a way to enjoy what is best about life in Tahlequah, for many folks, including spending quality time as a family, enjoying sunshine, and chatting with old friends and perhaps meeting new ones.
The event, slated for the last weekend in April since 2007, has brought the best of the novel, “Where The Red Fern Grows,” by Wilson Rawls, to downtown, since the movie was filmed here.
Padilla enjoys reconnecting with childhood
As a child spending time at her grandparents’ house, with all her aunts, uncles, and cousins around her, Kerrie (Bosley) Padilla spent endless hours outside playing chase, catching fireflies, or writing and acting out plays.
In 1987, after her dad got out of the Navy, the family moved here from Georgia to be closer to that family: matriarch Dorothy Monzingo, and maternal grandparents Dorothy and Dwight Allen. Her parents, DeAnna and Steve Edwards – as well as a couple of siblings and some aunts, uncles and cousins – still live here.
Eventually, Padilla graduated from Northeastern State University, and then its College of Optometry.
Dream Theatre spotlights songwriters
Dreams can come true for local aspiring songwriters who seek to gain performance experience.
For one young musician, Thursday night was an unexpected dream of discovery, as well.
Two opportunities are available to musicians at the Dream Theatre each month, the new Songwriters’ Showcase which opened Thursday night and Premier Night for musicians who have a few songs or a set, but not a whole show.
In search of the groove that works for The Dream, Manager Larry Clark is partnering with Blake Turner, Lakes Country operation manager.
The Songwriters’ Showcase, which will continue the third Thursday of the month in conjunction with Tahlequah Main Street Association’s Third Thursday Art Walk downtown, features seasoned performers who can share some of their personal insights into the how, when and why of their songwriting experiences.
Dream, Brewdog’s to host music festivals
One sign of spring’s arrival is the scheduling of music festivals, and 10 bands will visit a Tahlequah venue May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day.
Conference attendees get words of encouragement
Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.
Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art
Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
“A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.
Dickerson believes in putting the student first
As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
“I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
“Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.
Cleaning things up
Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.
Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9
While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.
The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.
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