On the first Saturday of October, 2005, Garden Baptist Church in Aliceville, Alabama installed their new Stewart Sign on what would later be described by those present as a most joyous occasion. "Had you been there, you'd of thought we were having a revival!" laughs Pastor Raymond Robertson. Among those working the crescent wrench and screwdriver were Bill and Jeanne Dyson, Elizabeth Kelly, Pastor Robinson's son and the pastor himself. "We just tipped it out of the crate and the sign immediately began turning motorists' eyes toward the Lord."
And the eyes along Highway 14 continue to turn. "Prior to our new sign we had but seventeen members in our congregation. Now, seven months on, our little country church has thirty members," boasts Pastor Robertson. "We have so many new friends, all of whom have commented on our sign."
The pastor's spirits were not always so upbeat. "We just could not grow," he laments. "There were Sundays not so long ago when we were running six to eight believers. Sure, we asked around and invited others into our fold, but it's natural that people are loyal to their own churches."
He then takes a breath as if he's about to let us in on some inside church secret. "We actually considered shutting down and attending other churches. It has taken prayer, faith, and patience to get things moving in the right way." As a former police officer, Pastor Robertson knows a little something about getting things moving in the right way.
"I shopped around locally for a sign. Not to be critical, but the sign companies between Tuscaloosa and nearby Columbus, Mississippi were not really interested in working with us," puzzles the pastor. "One guy actually quoted me a price of $1300 for a church sign and in the same breath told me 'but you aren't going like it'."
Garden Baptist's office manager Elizabeth Kelly tracked down Stewart Signs via the web. Unlike purchasing a sign off the rack from an uninterested local sign company, Elizabeth was now working with a Stewart Signs sign consultant; a seasoned professional who takes pleasure in helping churches beautify their grounds in a functional way. Her phone call to Stewart Signs opened up a world not only of caring consultants but of skilled artists and second-to-none customer service as well. Churches expect nothing less from a company with thirty-eight years in the church sign industry.
Around the same time the Lord provided other improvements to Garden Baptist Church. New carpeting was put down. Pristine chandeliers were hung. The pews needed and received new padding. Furthermore, instead of just replacing the windows, ten magnificent stained-glass windows now colorfully bathe the church's interior like a prism.
"The new sign is the crown on the top of all the improvements," avows this humble pastor. "It looks great in our yard - especially at night. It turns eyes toward the Lord".
Yet he won't pat his new church sign on the back for nearly doubling membership in just seven months. "I'm giving all the credit to God," insists Pastor Robertson. "Though it was truly amazing what happened once that sign went up," he chuckles.
"You know, the sign merely points toward a direction. I tell my congregation that it's up to us to enlighten everyone of what is in that direction."
Raymond Robertson, Pastor
Garden Baptist Church