The Cottonwood Baptist Church is now three years old. Having moved into its first church building this year the congregation now, also, has its first permanent pastor to fill the pulpit.
A graduate of Davis College in New York, John W. Tracy started the Faith Baptist Church, five miles west of Strip, out of the existing Liberty Baptist ministry in Las Vegas. He says the congregation was about the same size as the Cottonwood fellowship.
Tracy has been travelling to lead the Verde Valley congregation in recent weeks. He officially assumes his pastoral duties September 3. A special installation service is schedule for September 17.
"I'm certainly looking forward to this exiting new challenge," says Pastor Tracy. Cottonwood
Baptist Church has a vision to reach this local community for Jesus Christ and I'm grateful for the opportunity to lead this congregation and have an impact on Cottonwood and the Verde Valley."
Cottonwood Baptist Church is a Bible-based Independent Baptist Church, meeting at 102 E. Pima Street in Old Town Cottonwood. The church purchased the former Cottonwood Senior Center quarters when the Senior Center moved to occupy a newly remodeled facility on S. 6th Street.
The minister is married to Adrienne. They have two young children, Brooke (4) and Jackson (2). Tracy and his family are expected to re-locate to Cottonwood during the month of September.
"The Cottonwood church has come a long way," he believes. "There are a couple families that have been very faithful and felt the reach of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has opened up the doors and his hand has been on the ministry."
Tammy Yoakum is bookkeeper and has handled some of the administrative duties of the church. She says a small group of parishioners began meeting in homes and formed the Independent Baptist Church in May of 2003.
The church had been looking for a candidate to fill the position over its three years. Several people have spoken to the congregation, but they were never the 'right person'. "Pastor Tracy was referred to us by a minister who has helped us a lot and came highly recommended."
Yoakum says the church doors are open to every one in the Verde Valley.
"We also had a desire to reach the old Town Community because there is no other church offering there. That was a really wonderful experience when the Lord provided a building there."
Las Vegas, according to Tracy was both a challenge and an opportunity. The Las Vegas congregation tended to be very "transient" with people coming and going.
"Sometimes people are in desperation and they gamble, but there are also a lot of open hearts. A darker place provides an opportunity for a bright light to shine."
"It is in our heart to get a clear message found in the Bible to each and every person in the Verde Valley, through visiting people and mailings. We believe it's our primary goal to reach out and give people the chance and invitation to worship."
Eva Jones, a charter church member says, "We are all so very excited to have an energetic man like Pastor Tracy. He preaches and teaches from the Bible with a true heart for the people."
The church welcomes all visitors to its regular Sunday School classes at 9:45 a.m. and Sunday worship services at 11:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Bible study and a prayer meeting is also offered on Wednesday evenings at 7:00.