ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (KT) – The Here’s Hope Revival and Revitalization Ministries is going to have an Olympic-sized finish.
Olympic swimming gold medalist Kelsi Worrell Dahlia, who shares her faith in God wherever she goes, will be the speaker on Sunday night at the new Severns Valley Baptist Church (1100 Ring Road in Elizabethtown) to culminate a month of powerful services by 11 churches in the Severns Valley Association of Baptists.
The Sunday service begins at 6 p.m. and everyone is welcome to hear Dahlia, who won her medal for being on the preliminary heat of the women’s 4x100 medley relay that eventually won the gold medal with Lilly King, Kathleen Baker, Dana Vollmer and Simone Manuel in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
That victory was the 1,000th gold medal in United States history. Even though she wasn’t in the group that swam to the gold medal, her tweet to the world said a lot about her character and what was important in her life.
“I just want to glorify God with my actions in the pool,” she tweeted.
Eleven churches in the association have together glorified God in a variety of ways by ministering together on Sunday nights from Aug. 4 to 25, said Association Missions Strategist Shawn Edwards.
It has made for a stronger union among the churches, he said.
“A lot of bonding has taken place,” Edwards said. “There’s an understanding that we’re not in competition with one another. That’s been a joy.”
The 11 participating churches were divided into three groups based on size and rotated to different churches among that group for a month. The host church supplied the music and the fellowship either before or after the service.
Pastors rotated to different pulpits and new relationships were developed among the like-minded churches.
“It gives them an opportunity to partner and fellowship,” he said. “It was a big hit. God has been at work in this process.”
Barriers were also broken down, Edwards said. “You have some churches who have a fear about praise music, screens or projectors and they found out it’s not that bad. It has allowed the pastor to make that modification in his respective church.”
Edwards said some of the churches are already finding projects where they can work together. He said it’s getting back to why associations were formed in the first place.
“That’s why associations were formed,” he said. “You don’t have to go outside the state to do mission work. Let’s work together, help each other out. It’s basically undergirding that nobody is stealing anybody. We can work together.”
Edwards said the will be trying to expand to other churches in the association next year. There are 52 churches in the association.
“I’m not sugar-coating this, it has been a blessing to see, to watch it grow and watch churches fellowship together,” he said. “We’re hoping some strong, deep friendships come out of this.”
They skipped Labor Day weekend and decided to culminate with all 11 churches – and anyone else who wants to attend – with this Sunday night’s special service with the Olympic gold medalist and former University of Louisville swimmer speaking.
“I’m humbled she is willing to give of her time and training to come for a couple of hours on Sunday night,” Edwards said. “I can’t imagine the pressure she faces in the public arena for her faith stand. She’s doing a phenomenal job.”
The Sunday night emphasis will be on evangelism, he said. “We want people to bring their non-Christian friends and hear not a sermon but how God used this Olympian for his glory.”
Dahlia even has a tattoo on her foot of Luke 12: 22-31 which instructs that there’s nothing to be gained from worrying and anxiety. She glances at it before competing to simply do the best she can do and that’s enough in God’s eyes.
“I know God’s got my back,” she said. “He knows the results, and that’s what gives me the most peace right now … If it’s his will for me to move on from the meet, that’s awesome and I know I can glorify Him through that. If not, then I know he’s got a better plan.”
Dahlia, who specializes in the butterfly and freestyle, finished sixth in the world in the 100M butterfly finals at the FINA World Championships this past July in Gwangju, Korea. She is working toward the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.