First Baptist to host local teams Sun.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 28, 2010

NATCHEZ — First Baptist Church is entering the final week of the “preseason” before kicking off its AFC-NFC Challenge.

And four local high schools will be attending the pre-game ceremony.

The AFC-NFC Challenge is designed to promote growth among First Baptist’s weekly Sunday School classes. Each class has picked a team to identify with, and the classes are awarded points each week based on attendance and visitors brought.

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On Sunday, the church has invited the Natchez High School, Cathedral School, Trinity Episcopal and Adams County Christian School football teams to attend the event.

All four local teams plan on coming, and First Baptist youth pastor Dan Ratcliff said it would be a good opportunity to reach out to the athletes and coaches.

“I’m not sure anyone has gotten all four schools together like this,” Ratcliff said. “We’re trying to share how important it is that all those coaches and players are prayed for.

“There are many schools, but it’s the same mission for God: reach people for Jesus Christ. We have members from all four schools that attend here, but when they come in here, they’re just brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The church will host former Mississippi State and Dallas Cowboys linebacker D.D. Lewis as the guest speaker.

Ratcliffe said Terry Estes, president of the Miss-Lou chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, is a member at First Baptist and has heard Lewis speak. With that connection already being there, Estes was able to help get Lewis booked for the event.

“He has a tremendous testimony, and being able to share that testimony from an athletic standpoint will be good,” Ratcliff said. “We wanted to get someone who had a football background so he could relate (to these players).”

Ratcliff also said he hopes the event sparks more interest in the church’s Sunday School classes.

“We want to draw people in to help them grow in their personal relationship (with Jesus). Some are timid to come, but once they do, they typically find a place they fit in,” he said.

The service begins at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Visitors are invited to dress casual if they want.