New Church Service Offers Contemporary Music, Relaxed Atmosphere

First Baptist Church in downtown Gulfport is known for its large, elegant sanctuary and beautiful choir music. The congregation there is generally older and enjoys a traditional service, but Pastor Chuck Register wanted to share the word of God with a different, younger audience.

That's why he helped start Community Fellowship, which offers services every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. at the Orange Grove Community Center.

The contemporary Christian group "Sierra" sang to a congregation of about 125 on Sunday. This was the only third service.

Contemporary music plays a tremendous role at the service in a more relaxed atmosphere that appeals to a younger crowd.

"Some people feel like the traditional church has lost its relevancy and so today, instead of using a choir in choir robes, a piano and organ, we use a praise team, a praise ensemble," Register said. "We use a lot of video projection to try to bring the message of gospel alive."

One thing that has not changed is the message. The teachings of the church remain the same, it's just the packaging that's a little different. To illustrate a point about the importance of having a strong faith, the pastor shows a clip from an "Indiana Jones" movie.

"I thought that was such a wonderful illustration right there and it speaks to our contemporary life as it relates to what we see and know in our lifetime," said Joyce King, a First Baptist Gulfport member who came by to check out Community Fellowship.

Because this congregation is smaller, it provides a more intimate setting. The pastor says that allows him to stress personal relationships, which appeals to the younger audience.

"It still has the same beliefs I had when I was growing up but it's more accepting of every different lifestyle and it makes you feel more comfortable," said Tambra Fountain, who joined Community Fellowship on Sunday.

After Pastor Register finishes preaching at the contemporary service, he hops in his car and drives down to First Baptist in downtown Gulfport for the traditional service at 10:45 a.m.