“Little” country church having BIG impact on community
Fairview, SC (Paul Kirby) – Few people in South Carolina could tell you where Fairview, SC is. Google it and you’ll find a community near Lake Keowee. The closest town is Walhalla, a small town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Oconee County. Fewer yet know there’s a Fairview in Lexington County too. It’s also a community, not a town, southwest of Lexington almost into Aiken County. Fairview Crossroads joins Fairview Hwy., Calks Ferry and Neely Wingard Roads, and Wagner Highway. There’s a popular diner called the Crossroads Café, Padgett’s store, a new Dollar General, Mrs. Hazel’s restaurant, a country cooking spot, and a fire station. There are more cows and chickens in Lexington County’s Fairview than people.
Near Fairview Crossroads is Convent Baptist Church. Nearly 191 years ago, more than 30-years before the first shot of the Civil War, a group came together in a brush arbor and began to have church. That was the beginning of what is now Convent; a vibrant, growing congregation that few could find without the help of GPS or a compass. A “little” country church, Convent is not! In fact, it’s a church and it’s surely the country, yet each Sunday, an average 160 people attend their morning service. This church is growing when statistically, many are shrinking and dying.
Saturday, the members of Convent had a car show and their annual bar-b-que to fund multiple community outreach programs. In the summer, they hold a large Vacation Bible School, in the hottest part of the year a Back-To-School event, and as the leaves begin to drop, a Fall Festival. Of course, that brings us back to spring and the now annual Car Show that joined the bar-b-que several years ago. They’ve been doing the chicken and pork fundraiser for years. It raises money for the outreach, but it also allows them an opportunity to be seen and reach a different population than the other functions.
Their senior pastor, Travis Crumpton, could be mistaken for a farmer. He’s comfortable in faded blue jeans, a t-shirt, and skin darkened by the sun. That dark complexion accentuates the white in his hair and mustache. He said what’s making Convent successful isn’t necessarily his inspiring sermons, it’s one simple thing. “We show people love,” Crumpton said as he sat under the registration tent at the car show in some shade. Crumpton said that it’s just not enough for a church to tell the lost about the love of Jesus Christ,“They have to see Jesus in us,” he continued. Crumpton said the entire congregation has to be accepting , welcoming, and supporting, not judgmental. They need to accept no matter what a person looks like, how much money they have, or even what their attitude is about the truth that Jesus’ love is free to anyone who asks for it.
Crumpton said not long after he came to Convent in 2015, he wanted to see if the congregation was who they said they were. He had a young friend of his play along as he dressed him down, putting him in ragged clothes. He then sat the purposefully “scraggly” young man across the street from the church before services. To make it authentic, he gave him some bags that completed a homeless persona. Crumpton said it wasn’t long before the congregants began showing for Sunday services. Within a short time, several had crossed the road, approached the unknown “vagrant,” and invited him in. One family asked that he sit with them during services. Afterward, the young man told Crumpton he’d never felt more loved, welcomed and accepted. The congregation of Convent was living the life of Christians as they should. They were practicing Mark 16:15 which reads, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” The words, “All creations,” are key. Churches that have a standard of who’s acceptable among them, a specific color, heritage, or station in life in mind is not spreading the word to, “The world,” or to "All creations." “Everyone needs Jesus,” Crumpton said. “As true believers, we believe that all need the love of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus isn’t physically here anymore, he lives through us. People in and around this community often haven’t felt true love because of their personal situation. We don’t need to judge them; we need to model true, unconditional love for them. Once we’ve loved on them, they can’t get enough, and they come back for more.” This is standard at Convent and that’s why it’s grown.
Crumpton also knows that a church that’s not ministering to people of every age will slowly die. “The youth and young families are the future of the church,” he said. For that reason they have a dynamic young youth pastor and his wife who work with the children and teens. We recently wrote about them and you can find that article by simply clicking HERE.
You could read forever about Convent Baptist Church, but the best way to learn more is to experience it. You can find it at 787 Convent Church Rd. Leesville, SC. Their Sundays begin at 9:15 a.m. with Sunday School, and the service starts at 10:30 and ends about 11:30 a.m. They also have a Sunday evening service from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. On Wednesday, they meet from 7:00 until 8:00 p.m. There’s something for both adults and youth Sunday and Wednesday evenings.