Just above the entrance to Harvest Time Fellowship Church is written: “Building God’s Dream for Future Generations.”
That is what Pastor Gerald Bailey, 30, wants to accomplish.
“We don’t have a lot of members right now — most Sundays about 20 — but we want to develop programs for the youth” and reach others of all ages, he said.
The congregation is on the “50-ish side,” Bailey added, allowing that he and wife Heather are the youngest couple. They have two daughters, Ryleigh, 10, and Sheridan, 4.
Bailey is employed at Gates Corporation, which limits his work as the church’s shepherd to late afternoons and evenings during the week.
Bailey described Harvest members as loyal and who shared his desire for their church to be a place where people find God’s word and flourish spiritually.
The building at 329 S. First St. has held churches for many years, for the past 10 Harvest Time Fellowship. The church was planted in Iola by Harvest Time Ministries of Miami, Okla., where Bailey attended when he was growing up in the northeast Oklahoma town.
“I was called to the ministry at a young age,” he said.
Bailey worked with youth in Miami, including a lead role with a junior high group. He came to Iola to attend Allen County Community College and became a part of the Harvest Time congregation because of his Miami church connections.
“I felt God led me to Iola,” Bailey said, and he helped with the local church in whatever ways he could.
In January 2010, he became pastor, with the realization “that was what God wanted me to do.”
Heather is the worship leader, leading signing and helping her husband each Sunday as well as leading a women’s fellowship.
With such a small congregation, the Iola church has no Sunday school program. He does include youths in service whenever he can, Bailey said. Membership is increasing, albeit slowly, he said.
Services are at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays and at 7 o’clock Wednesday evenings for Bible study.
The church is non-denominational and “spirit-filled,” Bailey said.
He noted church finances were not great enough to support any of the high-tech amenities of larger churches, but he does have a projector so he may have images to support sermons and programs.
“We use CDs for music,” he added. “We don’t have that many musicians.”
“WE BELIEVE in the word of God as it’s written in the Bible and that believing in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. We believe in speaking in tongues and in the prophecies,” Bailey said.
“I love God with all my heart and we think it is important for us as members of the church to have a strong spirit-filled relationship with each other, as well as with God,” he said. “It’s important to have the word of God in our lives so we can grow (spiritually).
“God wants to work with us and wants to walk with us every day,” he added. “Our church may not be too big, but when you come in you know that the people care about God and about you.”
With fundamental and strict acceptance of the Bible and its teaching, nothing more than the word of God is needed, Bailey said.
“Methods and society may change, but the word of God never does,” he said. “You can’t water down or manipulate the word of God.”