Mississippi is again ranked the most religious state in the nation by a Gallup poll, and has topped that list for several years. Alabama isn't far behind, ranking number two and three the past several years, switching spots with Utah. So, how do the nation's most religious citizens worship? In today's world of cyber-churches and social media worship, where do the longtime traditions fit-in? As we found out in Philadelphia, a good old fashioned "Homecoming" fits in just fine with the folks at Trinity Baptist:
Trinity Baptist Church was born of a tent revival more than 50 years ago. As cold weather moved in, worshippers moved from the tent into a tool shed. As the membership grew over the years the facility grew as well.
Now the church celebrates its 50 year anniversary, bringing members back from near and far for a homecoming. Current pastor, Dr. Mike Carr, or Brother Mike, as he's known, says it's a tightly knit group,
"They like to fellowship and we eat a lot as most Baptist churches do; and, they do a great job," said Carr. "All of our ladies and men, they all kick in, if you've noticed. And everybody's helping clean up. It's just a fellowship-oriented church."
A big part of coming home to the Trinity family is the music, and the dinner on the grounds. There is no shortage of wonderful cooks in this congregation.
Grady and Doris Collins came home all the way from Georgia. Bro. Grady served Trinity as its pastor for more than half of its fifty years, and he was the natural choice to bring the sermon for homecoming. He says his best memories are here.
"I guess the best memories I have are ministering to the families, and speaking to them during the times of trouble, and encouraging them to do the things that are right and proper," said Collins. "And I've been privileged to minister for several churches before coming here, but this is probably the best place I've ever served."
Longtime member Janice Payne put in countless hours preparing for this day. You might say it's one big family reunion.
"Just as it says, it's a matter of coming home. And that's just wonderful to get to see everyone, to come back, and enjoy being together," said Payne, explaining her favorite part of the event.
Bill Stephens says it's hard to believe he has been a member here 35 years. Being a part of a church family, he says, is about a lot more than a location.
"It's very important for us to have those ties with the people in the church and not just the building," he said. "That you have that family atmosphere, and that's what we have here at Trinity."
Trinity Baptist is starting the next 50 years with a building program. The church needs more space for its growing young families. There have already been seven babies born this year to Trinity members, with two more babies on the way.