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.
Stevens sharing love of God by volunteering
Ben Stevens said his wife, Karrel, first signed him up to volunteer, but he continues as a way to share the love of God.
“I volunteer because I see it as a way to give back, to share your own good fortune with others, to be part of the local and world community. In short, it is sharing God’s love,” Stevens said. “God provides the love, but we humans can provide the action to spread it.”
For three years, he’s been volunteering with Feed My Sheep, the ecumenical weekly meal, and Help-In-Crisis, doing shelter minor maintenance and the Walk-A-Mile fundraiser. He also serves on various church committees, and participates in activities to support church programs, such as youth, missions and maintenance, at First United Methodist.
Local coach involved in ID process for WWII soldier
An unusual name could lead to the identification of the remains of a World War II soldier, Norman Lloyd Miller, who was killed in action more than 70 years ago in New Guinea.
Earl Miller and Jim Miller, nephews of the soldier, and other members of the Miller family in the Joplin area learned of the development a couple of days before Thanksgiving. That’s when their brother, Elzy Miller, of Tahlequah, was contacted by a federally funded search firm that was looking for surviving members of Norman Miller’s family.
Cloth diaper exchange a boon for moms
Though disposable diapers may be far more convenient, a growing number of parents these days are choosing cloth diapers not just to save money, but for the comfort of their babies.
A local mom has started a cloth diaper-lending program and Facebook support group, PoofyPantsDiaperLendingProgram. She also has an online support group called, “Poopsmiths Anonymous of Tahlequah.”
Claremore, Grove ring in the holidays with seasonal treats
As the holiday season gets into full swing, those who enjoy short road trips have plenty of options when it comes to seasonal activities.
Local artist goes digital with OU logos
A traditional artist by desire and training, Buffalo Gauge turned an eye toward the electronic future and graphic design.
With everything going digital, Gauge wanted to see how his love of painting would translate onto the screen. He was skeptical at first of the medium many people relate to as computer drawing, but soon realized his talent translated well into the digital language.
“The creative process is the same as traditional; you have to think it out or it won’t work,” Gouge said. “You have layers you have to keep in order for the image to come together.”
A project he’s tinkered with while enrolled in the Graphics Communications program at Indian Capitol Technology Center has the potential of gaining popularity and commercial success. The geometric shape of the letters on many University of Oklahoma logo designs seemed ideal for native designs.
Area cities set holiday calendars
Cherokee County boasts its share of holiday events, but for those looking to travel farther afield to enjoy music, light displays and other seasonal fare, Green Country has a packed calendar.
Thanksgiving traditions vary across the United States, and sometimes across the street. But the memories made each year come up in conversations time and again, as family and friends gather to celebrate.
Favorite foods often boast cultural family flavors, from coastal seafood to Native American roots.
Freese growing with CUMC congregation
Rudy Freese likes to try new things, and he’s willing to grow with his congregation. That’s why he enjoys being a pastor so much.
For 2-1/2 years, Freese has led the flock at Cookson United Methodist. He’s served at Quinton UMC, Canadian UMC and Leonard UMC.
“We are appointed by the bishop, but Cookson’s love for each other and acceptance of new people is a wonderful church trait,” said Freese, who holds a Master’s in Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary.
Tour of Homes brings holiday cheer
For those dreaming of a white Christmas or a dream home, inspiration will be on display next month during the American Association for University Women’s annual Tour of Homes.
Each year, hundreds of people come from Tulsa and beyond to join with locals in picking up a map and touring select homes beautifully decorated for the holidays. This will be the 32nd year for the event.
‘President Is Assassinated; Johnson Takes Leadership’
Editor’s note: This story appeared in the Nov. 28, 1963 edition of the Tahlequah Star-Citizen, which later merged with this Tahlequah Pictorial Press. The Star-Citizen was, at that time, a weekly newspaper. It and the Pictorial Press later merged to become what is now the Tahlequah Daily Press. This story is reprinted in its entirety, as it was originally published.
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