Signs of the times

Published 4:03 am Monday, June 25, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
When driving down the streets of Atmore, community members may start seeing a trend of churches displaying words of encouragement and informational messages about their church in a scrolling, digital fashion.
Both Liberty Missionary Baptist Church and Unity Baptist Church have recently exhibited new technology with LED signs in front of their churches.
W. J. Grissett, chairman of the trustee's board at Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, said that his church decided to get the new sign as a form of extending the church's ministry to the community.
"We decided to get it because we use it as an extended ministry for the church," Grissett said. "We do our best to say things in the sign that are not offensive, but we usually make statements on the message center that are general to everybody. We display a message of 'things I can do to improve myself' and know that will relate to everybody."
Grissett said the sign could be used as a tool to help fill the pews at the church.
"The purpose is to bring people to the church, not to put anybody down because in the Lord's eyes we are all filthy rags anyway," Grissett said. "As Christians, we need to do everything we can to get out His word. He's depending on us to be evangelists, people need to see in us the extended arms of Christ. If they don't, they will look somewhere else."
Liberty Missionary Baptist Church has had their sign since April and Grissett said it was chosen instead of purchasing a church van.
"Our decision to purchase it was that we felt the sign would be better for ministering than a bus or a van," Grissett said. "We evaluated the congregation and most of us have cars. Not enough people that come to the church do not have transportation."
Grissett did not have the exact price of the sign, but because the church went the extra mile of having the digital message and a neon cross on top of it, it was a pricey purchase.
"The figure would depend on what you want on the sign and what size it is," Grissett said. "LED signs are much more expensive than the signs you just place your letters in. We thought the neon cross on top would be effective. The cross was a little expensive, but the entire sign lights up, it is on a timer."
Grissett said no matter what the message center displays, it will always be inviting to the community.
There is no neon cross sitting on top of the sign at Unity Baptist Church, however, they do have informative messages scrolling through their LED sign for those traveling on Hwy. 31 to view.
Roy Shivers, a deacon at Unity Baptist Church, said the church wanted to update their look with the new electronic device.
"Our other sign was old and we wanted a newer-type sign where we could project the image of the church and some information about the church," Shivers said. "There are informative messages on the sign."
Shivers said the logistics of the sign have not quite been figured out, but church members are still happy to have the sign in front of their place of worship.
"Yes indeed church members have enjoyed the sign," Shivers said. "We've had it installed now about a month to a month and a half. We still don't have it engineered correctly as far as the messages go, but we don't have the people trained yet for that. We are working on that now."

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