Genesis is synonymous with beginning, foundation, origin and source.
With the motto of “New beginnings on a firm foundation,” Genesis Church of Seymour looks to provide all of those things.
“We seek to give people a new beginning here in life and hope, marriage, relationships, family, all of those things, and build their lives on the Word of God,” Pastor Jeff Barnett said.
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Barnett is in his 40th year of ministry, spending most of that time at churches in Indiana except for seven years in Pennsylvania. Most recently, he was a pastor in Versailles — first at Versailles Community Church and then at Church on the Rock.
Earlier this year, Barnett and his wife, Cindy, were contacted by David and Maureen Woodcock of Genesis Church of Bloomington about starting a church in Seymour. The Woodcocks had a church in Seymour more than 20 years ago.
The Barnetts began conducting Bible study at a home in Seymour, drawing nearly 20 people. In September, they officially launched Genesis Church of Seymour and have since conducted a 10 a.m. service on Sundays in a conference room at Fairfield Inn and Suites, 327 N. Sandy Creek Drive.
Both Genesis churches are affiliated with Assemblies of God, one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in
the United States.
“We embrace the traditional beliefs of Christianity, the Judeo-Christian faith,” he said. “We’re contemporary in our worship and our thinking. We will preach the Word of God. We will minister to the people, their needs, and pray for them and just allow the Holy Spirit to have his way and touch the people. That’s what our desire is.”
All ages are invited, but Barnett said
he and wife put an emphasis on reaching young people.
“Our hopes and dreams are in the next generations, bringing them up and keeping this faith of ours alive in them and, too, just the well-being of our people, America and our community and nation,” he said.
Barnett isn’t focused on a certain number of congregation members. He has pastored small churches all the way up to a church with nearly 500 people.
“I just trust the Lord with all that, to bring the people that he wants to make up the church,” he said. “Of course, from my side, the more, the better.”
His goal is to build a church.
“We’ve talked about getting land and building a church in the future,” he said. “We know we don’t want to stay (at Fairfield) because, No. 1, the size of the place, and then there’s limitations of what we can do and can’t do here, and we want to respect that.”
The Barnetts also are looking at moving to Seymour. They still live in Versailles, and Cindy Barnett has a full-time job at Decatur County Primary Care in Greensburg along with being a novelist.
“It’s really hard to pastor a church, shepherd a church in another town and then come over,” Jeff Barnett said. “I’ve never done that. I’ve always lived in the community and been a part of it, so we’re looking to come over.”
As members of the communities in which they have lived, the Barnetts have been involved in ministerial associations and service clubs. They already have connected with local ministerial groups, and once they move to Seymour, they plan to get involved in clubs.
In past years, they have conducted events at fairgrounds and parks and food and clothing giveaways.
“I think one of the most important things is building relationships with folks and letting them know we’re here, letting them know we want to help them, serve with them,” he said. “We just think that Seymour really has a bright future, and we want to be a part of it.”
Even though Barnett has been a pastor for decades, the North Manchester native didn’t grow up going to church. He wasn’t drawn to it until he was a student at Indiana University in Bloomington in the early 1970s.
As a freshman, he began studying social service, and he was a walk-on with the football team. He wound up receiving a full athletic scholarship and had hopes of playing professional football.
One day, those plans changed.
“We had campus ministries guys that came around and shared the Gospel of the Lord Jesus with us, and the Lord opened my heart, and I received the Lord Jesus as my savior,” Barnett said. “I was just sitting there one day at my desk in my dorm room after having become a Christian and just felt the Lord speak to my heart that he was calling me to the ministry.”
‘Simple Indiana farm boy’
Barnett gave up his last year at IU to begin his new journey.
“I didn’t graduate. I thought now that maybe I should have, but I was young and I was excited, and I launched out in ministry,” he said. “I was just a simple Indiana farm boy, and God just opened doors, and I’ve gotten to meet great people in different places. It has really been a blessed adventure.”
Barnett’s work as a pastor has taken him all over the world, helping plant churches on mission trips in other countries and preaching in churches and at conferences and seminars around the United States.
The Barnetts, who have been married
for 42 years and have 10 children and 12 grandchildren, are excited about their future in Seymour.
“Both Cindy and I are in our early 60s. We know our ministry days probably are numbered,” Jeff Barnett said. “We know that this may be one of our last churches. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but we really want to pour ourselves into it. We’re already connected with great people here who come to this church now, and we just look to see it grow.”
“I was just a simple Indiana farm boy, and God just opened doors, and I’ve gotten to meet great people in different places. It has really been a blessed adventure.”
Pastor Jeff Barnett of Genesis Church of Seymour
Name: Jeff Barnett
Hometown: North Manchester
New position: Pastor at Genesis Church of Seymour, which meets at 10 a.m. Sundays in a conference room at Fairfield Inn and Suites, 327 N. Sandy Creek Drive
Education: North Manchester High School (1970); attended Indiana University (1970-73); earned bachelor’s degree in theology from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh (2000)
Experience: 40 years as a pastor, mostly in Indiana except for seven years at a church in Pennsylvania
Family: Wife of 42 years, Cindy; 10 children; 12 grandchildren
Church information: 812-756-8475; facebook.com/genesischurchofseymour