history of Christian Renewal church
One hundred people gathered at the community room of First Federal Savings and Loan Association on St. Simons Island, Georgia. It was Sunday morning, September 9, 1973, and Christian Renewal was being birthed. No one was more surprised at the large turnout than the pastors. Three pastors formed the first eldership. Jim Adkins had served as pastor of the Jekyll Island Chapel and Assistant Pastor at First Baptist in Brunswick. Calder Kinney was supporting his family as an insurance representative and pastoring the New Hope Methodist Church on U.S. 84. Bill Ligon had resigned one month earlier as pastor of First Baptist Brunswick.
An advisory board was established to help set up a responsible financial accounting system. It was decided that Jim Adkins and Bill Ligon would be paid whatever possible from the offerings to support their families while they built the church. Bro. Kinney would continue to work in insurance full time and pastor the Methodist church part time. When the church could afford it, he would come with Christian Renewal part time. He made the change two months later, in November.
The second Sunday, the church moved to the Howard Coffin Park Recreation Center in Brunswick, which would be the church's home for the next six years. The services quickly grew to an average of 200 people on Sunday. The anointed worship services attracted many people who were eager to have a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Frequent baptisms for the new converts were held in the ocean and in home swimming pools.
Bro. Jim Adkins left after two years to move to Louisiana. Bro. Calder Kinney began to do full-time pastor work, leaving his insurance job. His Place Christian Bookstore of St. Simons was purchased from Ms. Jen White and moved to Lanier Plaza, Brunswick. George Counts, J.B. Conner and Bill Cofer were raised up as elders, along with Calder Kinney and Bill Ligon. A gift of three acres of land with a brick home on it located at 4265 Norwich Street was accepted from S.O. Jenkins and his daughter, Mildred Kicklighter. Later, five additional acres were sold to the church by the Jenkins' heirs. Ground was broken in 1978 for the new building. The brick home was remodeled to blend with the auditorium. Attendance doubled as soon as the church moved into the new $485,000 building.
Each time the church had a special need, the Lord seemed to move sovereignly to provide. When more educational space was needed, the 9,150-ft. west wing of the Brunswick hospital was purchased and moved onto our property for $10,000. The $175,000 remodeling work was completed debt-free. The Loaves and Fishes building was built by the people to feed and clothe the poor. The high school building was completed debt-free for $84,000. Christian Renewal Academy (now Heritage Christian Academy) was established with over a hundred students.
When asked about the mission of the church, Senior Pastor Bill Ligon said, "Christian Renewal has always had a world vision, although we are primarily a local church. Our vision is to amass and train as many believers as possible to proclaim the message of eternal salvation to as many people as possible. A strong local church more effectively accomp-lishes that goal." He went on to point out that the stated mission of establishing a strong local church with a world-vision appeared to him to be the pattern adopted by the Holy Spirit for the churches in the New Testament. Perhaps nothing more effectively declares that vision than the establishment of Christian Renewal's Board of Missions and the construction of the 1250-seat Family Life Center to accommodate the growing church. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!