For the last 40 years, Pastor Clifton "Clif" Briscoe has been preaching at Living Word Church, a place of ministry he started and that will celebrate 40 years of existence during a special service Sunday, March 3 at 10:30 a.m.
According to Briscoe, the service will focus on Living Word's past, present and future as many different members will speak about the church and its impact on their life.
"We're giving them an opportunity to say 'what has God done in your life through the ministry of Living Word Church,"' Briscoe said. "We don't want to just glorify our church...what we really hope to do is to glorify God."
Following the service there will be a lunch at 12:30 p.m. with catered meat and a potluck of sides from church members.
Briscoe explained Living Word began in March of 1979 with 12 believers worshipping in his home. Over time the church expanded to a room on the seventh floor of the Federal National Bank to a storefront on Main St. and Beard St., then eventually to its own five acres of land on North Kickapoo where it has remained since 1987.
Briscoe explained he pastored at two different churches and decided to start Living Word after God spoke to him in 1978.
"These are the words he said to my heart, 'I want you to create a place where the word of God is preached and the love of God is expressed,"' Briscoe said.
The pastor explained he was saved when he was 20 in 1973 and God encouraged him to read the Bible and it was then that he surrendered his life to God.
"The Word of God has had preeminence in my life for 46 years. It is what brought me life. It's how I entered into the Kingdom of God and it still feeds me like that," he said.
It is for this reason Briscoe named the church Living Word and the ministry's most important teaching comes from the Bible.
Over the years the church has gained, lost and kept several people and Briscoe said there are now about 100 members of the congregation.
He explained though he started the church, there are two other pastors who convey the overall message of Living Word as well as teach different perspectives.
Living Word started as one of the first few independent work churches in Shawnee but since then the number has grown to 45.
Though it has been 40 years since he started Living Word, Briscoe said each day he is still happy to preach and attend his church.
"I still feel as vibrant and as excited and hopeful and strong and energetic as when I was 25," he said.
The 66-year-old explained the church is a welcoming place and members of the congregation just enjoy each other as well as their close connection to God.
"I think number one they love the word of God and that we center on the Word. I believe that they love the worship that is here...I think the other thing that they come for is just the Holy Spirit...There is a strong presence of the Holy Spirit here...," he said.
For Briscoe, the best aspect of preaching at Living Word is being a teacher and celebrating God with church members.
"I love the way I am called here...I love preaching here because of the liberty I have here...I've got two other pastors here that are actually very good and I think the liberty we have and the people. They love God," Briscoe said. "It makes it easy to do."
As the 40th celebration draws near, Briscoe said he is looking forward to Living Word's future.
"I think the biggest thing I hope for is revival that affects our city, our state and our nation and the hope that this church will always be a church of the word of God and the presence of God and that we won't lose that," he said.