First In A Two-Part Series
CARLISLE — Outreach Deliverance Church, located at 4317 King Kennedy St., Carlisle, will hold its 20th anniversary celebration at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Pastor Eddie McConnell was raised in the church and gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ in 1980. In 1983, he answered the call to preach and teach God’s word. Later that year, McConnell and his wife Kathy — a Carlisle native — moved to Columbia for McConnell to work as a building contractor.
“At that time, we didn’t know how God was going to use us,” McConnell said. “We knew He loved us, and we loved Him, and we wanted to please Him in everything we did.”
Even though the couple had agreed that they did not want to live in Carlisle, they continued to be led back there, such as when they returned in 1985.
“We didn’t have all the answers, but we trusted God, and as time went on God’s plan was revealed to us,” he said.
McConnell said that plan was to start a non-traditional, non-denominational ministry in the town.
In January 1993, McConnell asked the late Janie Goree — who was Mayor of Carlisle at the time — if the town hall could be used for worship services. Town council agreed, and on Jan. 10, 1993, eight people met for worship service. They were the McConnells, Joe Woods, Sr., Maxine Spencer, Delphia Thompson, Jeniaka Spencer, Kiana Booker and Peter Booker. After that first service, those in attendance held a meeting.
“We all were on one accord,” McConnell said. “We believed that people needed deliverance. We felt the way to accomplish this was through reaching out to those who had a desire to be delivered.”
The church was named Outreach Deliverance Center (ODC) and was eventually updated to Outreach Deliverance Church (ODC). McConnell said within a few months, people came from three different counties — Cherokee, Spartanburg and Union — to attend services.
“People were filled with the joy of the Lord after hearing God’s word delivered in a unique way under the power of the Holy Ghost,” McConnell said.
A few months later, after a fire at the town hall, church member Keith Spencer suggested moving services to a house McConnell owned on King Kennedy Street in Carlisle. The house had been used for storage and as a place for McConnell to build cabinets.
“It was dirty, but the people had so much excitement about the work of God that the dirt wasn’t going to stop our fellowship and worshipping God,” McConnell said.
Members began working on the house, tearing down walls and fixing floors.
“The more we worked, fellowshipped, preached and worshipped, the more people came,” McConnell said.
The church also purchased two properties that year. One is seven acres at the corner of Carlisle’s Spring Street and King Kennedy Street, and that property contains the church cemetery. The other property purchased was four acres at 4317 King Kennedy St., and members had no idea what the future held for that property.
In 1998, the church purchased the former First Baptist Church at 4507 King Kennedy St., and ODC began holding services there.
“This move was used as a stepping stone to where God wanted us to go,” McConnell said. “The Spirit of God moved in that place in a mighty way.”
In 2009, the church moved into the current facility at 4317 King Kennedy St., which was the third property purchased. McConnell designed the building and completed most of the construction — literally and figuratively building the church. McConnell said the church would not have been able to afford such a facility if not for him doing the work and getting materials wholesale.
“Once we started, everything went kind of smooth for us,” he said. “I believe if you’re doing what God wants you to do, He makes it possible — even though you may not understand how it could be.”
Church member Floyd Lyles described what he called a great parallel.
“When I think about Jesus being the head of everything, there is a great parallel,” Lyles said. “He was a master builder, and Pastor (McConnell) is a carpenter. We were allowed to not only have Jesus as the foundation, but He gave us someone who had the skills and knowledge to build the church.”
Outreach Deliverance Church is the first church in Union County — whose congregation is predominantly African-American — to have a gymnasium. The church also includes a computer lab often utilized by youth members of the congregation.
The old house once used for worship is now used as a youth center, and events such as reunions and birthday celebrations are often held there. The church grounds also have two large sheds outside for fellowship activities.
Between 1993-2013, there have been over 300 people to attend new-member orientation classes. The church’s outreach consists of Fun Days, senior banquets, new member banquets, clothing and food ministries, community basketball and witnessing in all aspects of life. Ministries include praise and worship, dance ministry, men’s fellowship, women’s fellowship, youth ministry, media ministry, sound ministry, book store/CD duplication ministry, maintenance ministry, culinary ministry, and marriage enrichment.
“We feel like we’ve always been a church that was beyond the walls,” Lyles said. “We are ‘Outreach Deliverance.’ That is a big deal — and something we talk to the youth about — because when you say you’re outreach, you’re willing to go beyond the norm or what’s comfortable.”
For the first eight years, McConnell did not receive a salary from the church. For the first nine years, no money was collected inside the church, but rather by a locked box outside the sanctuary door for tithes and offerings. ODC has never hosted a fundraiser or revival; all purchases have been funded through tithes and offerings.
“We look around and see with our eyes the building and property and things God has blessed us with, but we also look around and see what God has done in the hearts and lives of people,” McConnell said. “A lot of people’s lives have been touched by this ministry. I believe this ministry is a great asset to this town. I go off to conferences and tell them how big our community is, and they say, ‘How did you do that in Carlisle?’ I didn’t do that in Carlisle. God did that in Carlisle.”
For part two of this series see Saturday’s edition of The Union Daily Times.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.