Religion is one of many foundational aspects of the Hope community. The surprising little town offers worshipers a variety of churches depending on one's denomination and calling. The Rev. Gerald Hancock, a 72-year-old retiree from Cummins, began ministering full-time in 2000. He recently spoke about his church, the role of faith in the Hope community and his hopes for the future.
How long have you been with the Hope Community Church of God?
In October it will be 35 years.
When was the church first established?
We started with a pole barn and built the church inside and built the fellowship hall later, in 1988. We established the church in 1982.
What brought you to the ministry?
I was in another church and I was doing midweek Bible study as a layperson as well as an adult Sunday school teacher and I felt the Lord was calling me in to the ministry. I was in my mid-30s.
What do you enjoy most about your calling?
Ministering to the people. I'd like to be remembered not for how good I preach, but when you come down out of the pulpit how you may help someone else.
How large of a congregation does the church have?
We have a membership of 91 but they're not all active.
When are your services offered?
Sunday school at 10 a.m. Sunday, worship at 10:45 a.m. and we meet midweek on Wednesday at 6 p.m. for Bible study and prayer.
How would you describe the denomination of your church?
We are affiliated with the Church of God out of Tennessee for the past eight years. Prior to that we were independent. We are Pentecostal.
It seems like everyone is looking for good news in a bad news world. What does your church offer to seekers?
Our hope is that we try our best to preach the gospel. We believe that that is the heart of God, the great commission. Our hope is in nothing less than Jesus Christ. That would be the message we have in the world we live in today. Our doors are open to all. We don't believe Jesus called anyone out and welcomed everyone. When people join us we try to make them feel as at home as we can.
The Hope community is very close knit. Would you say religion and faith play a role in that?
I definitely would. Hope was found on a ministry by Martin Hauser. I would say Hope's founding would be based on more spiritual things than some communities. Everyone is open to the churches.
What kind of changes have you seen in Hope over the past 30 years?
Hope has made some improvements. I've seen businesses come and go. Not a lot of growth in the church over the years.
What are your hopes for the coming years?
Our hope is that we would grow. I don't think any pastor worth his salt wouldn't desire for his church to grow. When you grow those are more souls prepared to go to heaven. But to not only grow in numbers but also spiritually.