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.”