Ray Williams, Pastor Of One Accord Community Church

Monday, December 23, 2013 - by Phil Wade

Ray Williams thinks Red Bank is a great city. It’s a family-oriented community where people look out for each other. Some residents are a challenge to look out for, because they move in and out within a few months. Often when those people look for help, long-time residents say, “You out to go try the church on top of the hill. They love everybody.”

That church is One Accord Community, hidden among houses and apartments on Sweetland Drive. Rev. Williams founded the diverse church nine years ago with a vision “to show Christ through caring, because he cares about everybody.”

“We treat people like we’ve known them all their lives,” he says. “They aren’t outcasts. We were all outcasts at one point before we met Christ.”

Rev. Williams hopes One Accord will follow the model of early churches recorded in the Book of Acts. In those days, fellow believers shared their resources to take care of each other’s needs.

“If somebody’s in trouble, we’re going to pool our resources together and help them. This church has always been the type that will step up when there’s a tragedy to help anybody. They don’t have to go here. They don’t even have to know them. I’m so proud of the members of this church for doing that.”

Members maintain a food pantry and help with finance requests as they can. Every Wednesday, they bring in 60 children to their Awana program, planning to love them and teach them about Jesus Christ. Naturally, there are challenges.

“You have to be willing to go into some places where people don’t care about Jesus.  Christ never gave up on us, so we can’t give up on those kids.”

Rev. Williams feels that commitment from Christ personally. Though he grew up in church, he walked away from it for about 20 years. During some of that time he sang in bars and almost died of alcohol poisoning. He remembers a night when, after many beers, he heard the Lord telling him, “I have plans for you, but if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to die.” Williams’ first son was only a year old at that time, and the thought moved him to tears. He didn’t want to drink himself to death, but when the night passed, so did any motivation to change his habits.

The next night, Rev. Williams almost died. He was rushed to a hospital with an enlarged heart. “When I was lying on that hospital bed, I couldn’t really tell you my name, but God was talking to me.”

He believes Jesus walked him out of that lifestyle, loved him back into the church, and called him to love others the same way.

Recently, a family asked him to talk to a man in a hospital for critical surgery, a man opposed to talking to pastors of any kind. Rev. Williams decided he would “treat him like an old buddy,” and they talked for 90 minutes. The man said, “You’re patient. Most pastors would have left after I said there is no god.”

Rev. Williams said, “A lot people thought there wasn’t a God before they met him.” They prayed before he left to the surprise of the family.

Rev. Williams has reached out to the man since then and hopes to see him in church soon.

“When I had the idea to plant this church,” he says, “I was tired of seeing church done the way the Pharisees did it—all about obeying the law. I think people like us because we don’t judge their lifestyle right off the bat.”

(Phil Wade is a local writer and native Chattanoogan. Find him on Twitter: @Brandywinebooks or on LinkedIn. He blogs regularly at Brandywinebooks.net)


Pilgrim Congregational Church Announces Easter Holy Week Events

Pilgrim Congregational Church announces its Easter Holy Week events: Palm Sunday Celebration 11 a.m. Sunday, March 29 Dr. Morgan’s sermon is entitled “If You’re Happy – Clap Along.” Childcare available   Maundy Thursday Seder Meal and Service 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 2 RSVP to the church – 423 698-5682 by Sunday, March ... (click for more)

World Impact Launches Program To Address Gang Violence

Pastor Ezra Maize, senior pastor of Rehoboth Ministries and the members of Rehoboth Ministries, launched their first humanitarian community program which will address the gang violence in the City of Chattanooga, through World Impact. World Impact is an organization designed to offer gang affiliated men and women, between the ages of 21-35, an opportunity to be participants in ... (click for more)

Hard Freeze Predicted In The Area For Saturday Night

Temperatures are expected to drop Saturday night to 28 degrees or less. Here is the latest report from the National Weather Service:  HARD FREEZE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT EDT /11 PM CDT/ TONIGHT TO 11 AM EDT /10 AM CDT/ SUNDAY... * EVENT... A HARD FREEZE EXPECTED WITH LOWS FROM THE TEENS NORTH TO THE UPPER 20S SOUTH LATE TONIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING. ... (click for more)

Man Charged In Shooting On Sixth Avenue Had Been Shot Himself Last Week; Police Say Incident "Part Of Gang War"

A man charged with attempted first-degree murder on Sixth Avenue Court on Thursday afternoon was shot himself earlier this month. O'Shae Kadaris Smith, 20, of 2114 E. 12th St., is also charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was one of two people shot on Rawlings Street on March 16. Kendre Allen, ... (click for more)

Finley Stadium Needs To Grow Up - And Response

RE:  Finley Stadium Financial Picture Rosy; Beer And Alcohol Sales Approved; AstroTurf Almost Ready and City, County Pitching In $250,000 Each For New Finley Stadium AstroTurf I read a story here five days ago about a rosy future for Finley stadium. It lead me to believe that the stadium was making money and even improvements with donations.  Then we get a short ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Sunday Funnies

They say March roars in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. So as you reach for your lambs-wool sweater on this last Sunday of the month, allow me to lighten up a bit with a new edition of my Sunday Funnies. I have a delightful crowd that keeps me supplied in jokes and these are some of the best that have come my way: A WOMAN'S PERFECT BREAKFAST -- She's sitting at the table ... (click for more)