Since the beginning of Shekinah Church, Sue Curran has been a preacher for the congregation. Photo by David Gr ace.
Jane Lambert remembers the first time she was invited to attend Shekinah Church. "I'm not going there. There's a woman minister," she responded. She decided to attend, but leave before Pastor Sue Curran — who co-founded Shekinah with her husband in 1973 — began her message. But she didn't leave.
Two years after that visit in February 1974, she was on staff at the church. Today, she's the associate pastor.
"It was a vocation I felt like I was called to always, but never had the support and development," Lambert said.
Sue and John Curran were youth leaders in a local Methodist church when God called on them to raise up a new ministry — a place where the commandments of Jesus would be a reality in everyday life. With six other couples, they pooled their resources and purchased 100 acres of a 160-acre farm in Blountville. The property had a tin-roofed farmhouse and a run-down barn. The Currans didn't know exactly what God intended for them to build, but they knew He was asking them to yield their whole lives and create a community to accommodate a full-time Christian lifestyle.
"We wanted to have the freedom to move in that way," Sue Curran said, "and have the freedom to worship with the expectation of having the presence of God in our meetings."
They named the church Shekinah, which in Hebrew means "the glory of God" and refers to the presence of God that dwelt in Moses' tabernacle. They held their first church services in the barn. In 1976, they purchased the remaining 60 acres of property.
Through the years, they've built a main church building and sanctuary; the LaunchPad building to host Elevation Student Ministries; an athletic center/garage; and five apartment buildings. One of those apartment buildings also features a guest house. A number of church families live in a nearby subdivision, in homes built on lots sold by the church.
"Everything is built around the church, all our ministries," said Curran, who received a master's degree in Theology and doctorate of divinity from Beacon Seminary in Macon, Ga., where she teaches as an adjunct professor. "Our work is built on prayer, worship and the living word."
Labor-wise, Curran said, it was an intensive undertaking.
"There were a lot of hungry people wanting to do something refreshing and new to God," she said. "Our people knew how to pray."
Shekinah, located at 394 Glory Road, grew from humble beginnings to experience a worldwide impact — from hosting internationally known preachers and prophets to sending folks from their own congregation to become missionaries. The church serves as a conference center, with Shekinah hosting its first ministers' conference in 1978.
The congregation of about 200 is taught the basic principles of how to live as a Christian, Lambert said.
"The services are very intellectual and ordered," she said.
"Sunday morning is music, worship, prayer and we hear from the word of God. Pastor gives us all the opportunity to share. We also pray for people who are sick," added Kari Mauerman. Kari and her husband Andre serve as the youth and children's pastors. "We want people to know that we love people and we love God."
"We've seen a lot of people come into the church, a lot of healing," Andre said.
Sunday morning services are held at 10:30 a.m. Mike McGraw leads the worship with a team of singers and band members. Wednesday evenings include worship music at 6:30, followed by Bible study with Jane Lambert at 7 p.m. Prayer meetings are held at 10 a.m., Tuesdays, and 7 p.m., Fridays, in the LaunchPad prayer room.
Elevation Student Ministries (for seventh grade through high school) and Planet Glory Kids (3 years through sixth grade) meets each Wednesday night, led by the Mauermans. Andre, from Ohio, and New Jersey native Kari met at a Bible college in Florida. They joined Shekinah in 2003. Their goal is simple — to raise up a generation to live for Jesus for a lifetime.
"Everything we do is trying to call that out of them their entire life," Andre said.
"Everything we do is for that whole reason," Kari added. "They'll love Jesus their whole life, not just when mom and dad are carting them to church."
Among the church's outreach programs are a prison ministry at the Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City; the Shekinah Food Pantry, open on an as-needed basis; small groups who meet in members' homes; and the support of missionaries in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Germany and South America.
Shekinah also offers Sozo prayer, a scheduled time of healing prayer with the prayer team. Sozo is the Greek word for "salvation," Curran said.
Judy Weatherford, who served as Shekinah's worship leader for 30 years, is now doing care pastoring.
Another conference, set for June 17-19, will feature Tommy Tenney, Olen Griffing, along with Curran. Tenney is an American preacher and author known for his message of "God Chasing." Griffing is an Apostolic Elder at Gateway Church in Texas.
Curran, who has ministered worldwide, is the author of several books, including "Prayer in Another Dimension," "I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning," "Define Your Destiny Through Prayer" and "Spiritual Breakthrough."
For more information, visit www.shekinah.net, call 323-2242 or email to email@example.com powered by Disqus