From the outside looking in, people may believe religious ushers are just responsible for showing churchgoers to their seats. But during a packed convention this past weekend, many learned there’s a lot more to it.
“When people come to church you never know who had a bad week,” said Archie Lofton Jr. “When they come to church, they’re looking for some help, although they may not say it. They’re looking for some inspiration.”
The North Carolina Baptist Ushers Convention, held Saturday at the Sampson Agri-Exposition Center, brought thousands to Clinton. Along with fellowship, the purpose was teach the recipe to becoming “The Excellent Usher.”A theme used during the event was “serving God’s people with Joy.”
Along with being courteous, some of the ingredients included supporting the ministry, being teachable and being resilient. First Baptist Church of Clinton, located at 900 College St., hosted the event organized by the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Inc. Lofton, president of statewide organization, said everyone comes together to learn, study and to inspire said about the tradition.
“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked,” Lofton said while citing a portion of the Bible verse Psalm 84:10 and explaining the importance of ushers.
While talking about the history of the doorkeepers, Lofton noted how a lot of women today serve as ushers.
“It used to be just for men,” he said. “That’s significant because all is included.”
The one day session was previously held in Charlotte and Fayetteville included workshops for youth, adults and presidents.
“This is the first time it’s been to Clinton,” said the Rev. Thomas Farrow Jr. of First Baptist Church. “We’re really excited an honored.”
To make the event a success, Farrow and members of the church helped with lodging arrangement and other logistics to make sure ushers and church leaders enjoyed their visit to Sampson County.
“Many times, they’re the first face people see when they come in,” Farrow said. “Even in a situation like this, the people here never been to Clinton or the Civic Center. So, we have our ushers working to assist them with where they need to be.”
In case of emergencies, he also added that ushers are “johnny-on-the-spot” in times of need. Lofton said nurses are also included in the ushering process.
“What we’re trying to do in North Carolina is get someone that’s a certified nurse in all the churches,” Lofton said about supplying services such as first aid.
In addition to workshops about being an usher, some of the other highlights of the event included a worship service, a performance from praise dancers from St. Matthews Baptist Church in Raleigh and the local MLK Memorial Choir . During the event, the organization raised more than $26,000 for missions.
Luther Moore, president of First Baptist Church of Clinton’s usher board was elated to see such a large crowd at the event. He’s one of many ushers who serve on Sundays throughout Sampson County.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for us to serve,” Moore said. “We feel that we are missionaries. We set the tone for services and we try to make sure everyone is comfortable and feel at home when they come to visit our church.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.