Preacher started sermons young
Wongchin Viltz, now senior minister at the Hollywood Street Church of Christ, got his ministerial start as a 9- or 10-year-old preaching alone in his bedroom.
“My bed was my audience and my imaginary pulpit,” Viltz said. “I could be found on any given day just preaching to myself.”
Viltz, now 36, said he has always had a passion to preach and he recognized it as a gift and purpose early on, preaching to live audiences in his hometown of Ville Platte by age 15.
“God has a gift for every man to do,” said Viltz, who is referred to as brother, like all other male members of the church. “If you don’t know your purpose, you’ll be basically confused. You’ll be here, you’ll be there, you’ll be everywhere. But if you know your purpose, you’ll fit right where you want to be.”
Helping Viltz define his purpose as a young man was the minister at his childhood church. Viltz, who grew up in single-parent household, said Brother Aaron Arrive was a mentor and a father figure who taught him about leadership, preaching and dealing with people as well as how to drive.
“The gift that God had in me he basically helped develop that gift into what I am today,” Viltz said of Arrive, who died in 1998.
Viltz spent three years in the Army before attending Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, for two years. He left a small church in Texas to lead a bigger church in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he finished his studies at Taylor University.
Viltz and his wife, Nivea, spent three years in Fort Wayne, but the desire to get closer to family brought the couple with their first child to Baton Rouge in 2006 .
“I feel God has me exactly where he wants me to be,” Viltz said.
For more on Viltz or the church, go to http://www.hollywoodstreetchurchofchrist.com.
The Rev. Richard White has a heart for those affected by the Hurricane Katrina — a driving force behind his return to his native Louisiana after nearly 20 years away.
White, 65, is launching the new Mercy Church to help Katrina victims rebuild their lives in Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes and surrounding areas, he said.
The church will hold its first service — what White is calling a “preview service” — at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Hampton Inn, 201 Rushing Road in Denham Springs.
“During Katrina, there were over a million people that were displaced out of New Orleans and a large portion of those moved north into the east side of Baton Rouge,” he said.
The church plans to hold two other “preview services” on Nov. 23 and Dec. 11 before holding regular weekly services late this year or early next year, White said.
White spent about 19 years leading a church in Baton Rouge before leaving to pastor churches in the Atlanta area and Panama City, Fla. He also helped his son at a church in Tampa for more than two years.
White, a Shreveport native, has been in the ministry for 40 years.
“At my age, some guys are trying to pick out grave plots and tombstones,” he said. “I still have a work to do I’m very excited about.”
Contact White at (678) 478-0540, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go the church’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/themercychurch.
Bible on the Bayou
The popular “Bible on the Bayou: Serving This Present Age Church Conference” returns beginning Friday at St. Alma Baptist Church, 12861 La. 416 in Lakeland.
“It’s another opportunity to raise the level of teaching in our community,” said the Rev. Mary W. Moss, host pastor.
The conference starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday with a special lecture by the Rev. Robert Smith, a highly sought speaker, author and a professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala. Smith will speak on “the Spirituality of the African American Tradition.”
“He’s going to also look at the wisdom of the black preaching tradition which is an awesome topic, looking back at preachers in our culture from years ago — the 1800s even — and it’s amazing to see how that thread has transcended and traveled through the centuries,” Moss said.
Smith will be followed at 7 p.m. Friday by the Rev. Debra Broughton, of Memphis, Tenn.
The conference continues at 7 a.m. Oct. 29 with an opening session, followed by workshops at 8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. The conference will consist of a preaching track for pastors; a ministry track for ministry, auxiliary and church leaders; and for the first time a youth and young adult track for ages 17 and up.
Workshops for the preaching and ministry tracks will include “Preaching: A Guide to Biblical Exegesis: Moving from the Here and Now,” by the Rev. Keith Smith, of Luling; “Biblical Preaching: A Theology of Preaching” by Robert Smith; “Biblical Preaching to a New Generation” by the Rev. Thomas Bessix, of Baton Rouge: “Where There is Vision There is Provision” by Bishop Charles Wallace of Baton Rouge; and “Preaching that Empowers: Preaching to the Disenfranchised, Marginalized and the ‘Least of These’” by the Rev. Errol Domingue, of Baton Rouge.
A special panel discussion — “Old School, New School, Same Jesus: An Intergenerational Dialogue on Current Topics” — will be held from 11 a.m. to noon Oct. 29. The facilitator will be the Rev. Jon Bennett, of Baton Rouge.
Youth and young adult track workshops will include: “Religion vs. Relationship,” “Solid Rock Faith” and “Personal Prayer Life.”
Robert Smith will speak for the closing session at 2 p.m. Oct. 29.
Workshop materials and lunch on Oct. 29 are included in the $25 registration fee. Call (225) 627-5390 or go online to http://stalmabaptistchurch.net.
Old Testament Survey
An eight-week class on the Survey of the Old Testament will start at Oct. 31 at New Life Church, 365 Staring Lane.
The class is the second offered by the Southeast Regional Biblical Institute of the Beeson Divinity School Extension Division in Birmingham, Ala.
The certificate program of biblical and theological education is being offered to ministers and laypersons (nonministers). People with or without college degrees are invited to participate.
Special financial aid is available for seniors, 65 or older and ministerial financial aid is available to those who demonstrate a need and meet school’s requirements. Students may apply for financial aid by contacting the Registrar’s office at 225-202-4279. The registration fee is $10 and the course tuition is $40 for each class.
To receive registration forms, contact the Rev. Mary Moss at 225-772-0307 or email at email@example.com.
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday. Contact Terry Robinson at (225) 388-0238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.