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Beyond the sanctuary
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 Oxford Baptist Church continues to serve the community as a warm, spirit-filled and focused ministry. The mission statement is three-fold: obeying God, building relationships through him that last an eternity and caring for all people.

 Sponsored by High Point Baptist Church, the Oxford Mission was constituted into a church with 45 charter members in 1961. Services were held in what was then known as Harwell's Grocery. In 1962, they constructed the first building on their current property located at 305 Emory Street.

 A native of Alabama, the Rev. Sean Nix, pastor of Oxford Baptist Church, began preaching at the age of 13 and has served churches in Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia as minister of youth, minister of education, associate pastor and senior pastor.

 A graduate of Griffin High School, he earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology and counseling from the University of Tennessee and holds a Master of Divinity from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

 He and wife, Melissa, a third grade teacher at Palmer-Stone Elementary, have two children - Garrett, 11, and Mackenzie, 7.

 Serving as senior pastor since 2002, he leads a dynamic ministry team comprised of Director of Music and Education Steve Traylor, Youth Minister Kevin Wilhite and Secretary Kellye Williams.

 Nix was the children's camp pastor at Griffin this summer and took 16 children to camp. The church partnered with Iron City Church in Pittsburg and took a team to help accomplish the goal of having 2,000 ministry touches during the summer.

 They offered free car washes, distributed gospel tracts and bottled water to joggers in local parks and painted a recreational facility for an inner city church in Pittsburgh.

 Oxford Baptist, as a Newton County School System Partner in Education, is teaming up with Palmer-Stone Elementary School to provide items for children with needs and keeps a closet of school supplies readily available when a need is identified.

 Averaging 160 in morning worship, Oxford Baptist Church is experiencing growth in all areas and recently counted 20 visitors in morning worship. Nix attributes the growth to an overall friendly, family environment.

"Our messages are relevant to your life, and you will meet some wonderful people who could become a part of your extended family," said Nix, "I've been here for six and a half years and this is the best time - seeing growth and wonderful harmony.

 "People are reaching out to minister to folks and inviting neighbors."

 Nix said he believes that it's all about making personal touches in the community. He leads by example in having devotionals with educators and by sending notes to his own children's teachers to let them know that he is praying for them.

 One of the traditions of Oxford Baptist is to gather teams to prayer walk around the public schools. This year, approximately 30 members paired to prayer walk around the Board of Education, Sharp Learning Center and the county's elementary, middle and high schools. They walked around every trailer, gymnasium and door where children will be coming in and out, praying for patience and God's protection over them and teachers, principals, custodians and cafeteria workers.

 "It really touches our hearts," Nix said as he recalled listening to his son pray for his teachers. "Our folks have an awareness that it is not just about what we do inside the walls of the church, but it is about sharing God's love with people outside in the community. It was neat to watch kids laying hands on the doors of their school and praying for their classmates."

 According to Nix, one of the main things that should capture the heart of every church is being sensitive to the needs of the community.

 He believes it is through encouraging personal relationships that churches experience growth.

"We find that the majority of people who come to church are here because they have built a relationship with someone here and are responding to their love for God and their love for their church family," he said. "They want to experience that."

 The community is invited to attend the annual homecoming service at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 24 with special guest singers, testimonies and a brief history of church. For more information, call (770) 786-8132.