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Across the Nation: ‘Mr. Albert’s Neighborhood,’ 2020 prayer time, top prison volunteer and more quick takes


Across the Nation is our monthly rundown of news briefs, links and quotes from Churches of Christ across the U.S. Got an idea for this column? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at [email protected]

Featured photo (above)

Tennessee church honors retiring elder: Albert England, 83, served for nearly half his life as a shepherd of the Mt. Juliet Church of Christ in Tennessee.

On a recent Sunday, the church surprised the retiring elder and his wife, May Ola, with a video presentation dubbed “Mr. Albert’s Neighborhood” and the naming of a street by the building, now to be known as “Albert Way.”

Cheering is elder David Burka.

Spotlight

When the time came to dream of a new approach for interactive learning for children at the Camelback Church of Christ in Phoenix, leaders wanted something so different that it would take a village to pull it together.

That’s exactly what happened with the introduction of “Bibleville,” minister Richard Perry said. He said he hasn’t seen anything quite like it in the Valley of the Sun — as the Phoenix metro area is known — or the whole Southwest.

“We have created six themed classrooms and 36 storefronts, like walking down the street of a small town,” Perry said. “All biblically based, of course.”

Boys and girls at Camelback now may spend class time at the Bible History Museum or Majesty Theater. Other inviting spaces include “Dr. Luke, M.D.” and “Joseph’s Fine Men’s Clothier,” to name a few.

The Food for Thought Cafe is a part of "Bibleville" at the Camelback Church of Christ in Phoenix.

The Food for Thought Cafe is a part of “Bibleville” at the Camelback Church of Christ in Phoenix.

Quick takes

KENTUCKY

BOWLING GREEN — The 200-member Mt. Pleasant Church of Christ began 2020 in prayer — the third year of its initiative to start each new year with a time of focused conversation with God.

“This year, our prayers focused on concern for our community, the lost and those who are sick, but also for the loss suffered recently at the West Freeway Church of Christ.”

“This year, our prayers focused on concern for our community, the lost and those who are sick, but also for the loss suffered recently at the West Freeway Church of Christ,” minister W. Tom Hall said, referring to the deadly Dec. 29 shooting that left three dead, including the gunman, at the Texas church.

The Mt. Pleasant church was honored to ask for protection and blessings for its Fort Worth-area brothers and sisters, Hall said.

In recent years, the Kentucky congregation has set aside three hours on the first Friday in January for the special prayer.

OKLAHOMA

FORT GIBSON — Henry Petree, a deacon of the Fort Gibson Church of Christ, was recognized by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections as its 2019 Volunteer of the Year.

Petree has spent 50 years ministering to prisoners and facilitating educational and faith-based classes at three prisons. He also helps organize a prison workshop that the Fort Gibson church sponsors to help teach others how to do the same. The next one will be March 28.

Petree said that history created his destiny. He pointed out that he “got out there doing some things I shouldn’t have been.” Later, he realized that “the only difference between me and the guys in here is that they got caught, and I didn’t. If it hadn’t been for God’s grace, I’d be in here.”

A Corrections Department video said he has invested thousands of hours into the lives of criminal offenders, baptizing hundreds of men and women behind bars.

TENNESSEE

LEBANON — Those with limited vision are most in need of in-person companionship, said Christine Beasley.

This was true 32 years ago when Beasley and her late husband, James, began a support group at the Market Street Church of Christ for those who were blind or living with low vision.

They called the group “Sight Seekers” and invited all interested to meet once a month to receive support and encouragement from one another.

Christine Beasley leads the “Sight Seekers” support group.

Christine Beasley leads the “Sight Seekers” support group.

Today, the group is still going strong, said fellow church member Ken Beck, who wrote a profile of the group that ran in the local newspaper, the Wilson Post.

About one-third of the 20 group members and volunteers are part of the Market Street church, Beck said.

Beasley, who has taught children’s Sunday School classes at the church, said that while glaucoma took her vision, her spirit has only been increased.

“We talk about everything, and people tell about losing their sight and how they’ve accepted it. When I lost my sight, I got a lot of support from my church.”


Tony Wallace had three loves: God, his family and nursing.

Tony Wallace had three loves: God, his family and nursing.

Quote of the month

“Even though we didn’t plan for it to happen this way, he died in the house of the Lord, serving.” — Sarah Wallace, daughter of church shooting victim Tony Wallace. Read the full story.

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