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Jerusalem Baptist Church has been in existence since 1840, but the church's history extends even further into…More America's past: the site of Jerusalem Baptist Church was originally the home of Payne's Church, an Episcopal church that was founded in 1766. The church was occupied by the Confederates during the Civil War and was subsequently demolished by Union forces, who used its bricks to build winter quarters. In 1866, parishioners replaced the original church with the small white frame structure still standing today.
"We're a church that really desires to see, to know and to experience God," states Pastor Terry Smith. "Two of our strongest desires are a passion for the word of God and prayer. We want to be a house of prayer. I want to fulfill the scripture that says 'My house is a house of prayer.'"
The church offers a sustained individual prayer service every Sunday at 6pm, which is supplemented by a few songs and a brief message from the pulpit. How long does the community pray? "However long it takes," Smith replies. "And then we'll usually end with a song."
"What makes this community great is that we're multicultural and diverse," Smith says. "We represent nine different Hispanic countries. We have Koreans, Russians, Indians, biracial families. We are also becoming a very young church, and a lot of that is growth from within: we've seen a lot of Mason students come here, stay here, get married and have babies."
"Our desire is to not observe God, but to experience God," Smith adds. "I don't want our testimony to be from somewhere else. I want it to be a personal testimony. I don't want to hear about what God's doing through some other church; I want to experience it here."
Through its Sounding Grace Music Academy, the church offers lessons on playing nearly any instrument.
Three days a week, through its Mothers Day Out program, the church offers day care and education from 9am until 1pm.
"Some of the schools are saying that the kids who are coming through our programs are among the best-prepared in the schools," Smith states.
"We support stay-at-home moms and this provides some time for moms to have time to themselves," Smith says. "We don't babysit—we teach character development as well as academic subjects. We have chosen to support those families, and we charge as minimally as we can. We're pretty much at capacity right now as far as what the county will allow."