Sunrise Speaker: Golaway brings community focus to church, ministerial association
A new face delivered the message at the traditional Sunrise Service this Easter Sunday.
Pastor Mark Golaway of First Christian Church of Eureka Springs was the guest speaker at the Sunrise Service, which was held in the statue area of the Great Passion Play Grounds.
Golaway, who first came to Eureka Springs in October 2014, serves as both the senior pastor of First Christian Church and the president of the Western Carroll County Ministerial Association.
“I came to Eureka in October of 2014 as an associate pastor after leaving the Arkansas Army National Guard, where I served as a chaplain,” he said. “The previous pastor of First Christian Church, Phil Wilson, was going to retire, and the church, anticipating a chance, was looking for a minister that would be able to take over that position.”
Golaway said Wilson helped him get to know both the people and the community of Eureka Springs during his first year in Carroll County.
“We got to do the Elijah and Elisha thing. He was my mentor for that year,” he said. “He helped me make the transition into this particular congregation and get to know them better.”
Golaway took over as senior pastor in November 2015 and took the role of president of the ministerial association in December 2016.
“When I first joined First Christian, I would attend those meetings with Phil,” he said. “They asked me take on that role, and I started in December of last year. It’s an annual assignment, so I am president of the association this year.”
In both the church and the ministerial association, Golaway said he tries to bring a focus on the local community with him. The church’s men’s group recently finished volunteer work cleaning up the fence line of the Eureka Springs Cemetery, he said, and First Christian Church will often use its facility to support various clubs in the area, hosting meetings for a beekeeping club, a ham radio club and the ministerial association among others.
“We had some connections from the church and people of the community to the cemetery commission and knew they were looking to have that fence cleared,” Golaway said. “We asked if we could do that for them, and they gave us the boundaries for the fence line as far as what they wanted cleared. We were happy to do it.”
He said the ministerial association is responsible for coordinating worship events for the local community, including the National Day of Prayer, the Thanksgiving service and the Celebrate Jesus Parade.
“We are a part of this community, and we want to be a part of reaching out to the community,” Golaway said. “The reality is we have a love for the people of this community, and we want to be able to speak in a manner that can be heard. To have a voice among those who aren’t members of our congregation, you have to go where they are.”
He said he looks for opportunities for both First Christian Church and the ministerial association to be people among the people so they can build relationships with the local community that allows them to minister to others.
For the ministerial association, Golaway said this means capturing those events the group can do together.
“There are so many different experiences and backgrounds in worship,” he said. “We each do our own thing within our own congregations. The idea with the association is that we’re trying to help the body of Christ serve together and work together because of the common aim we all share despite our different worship practices, theological differences and historical backgrounds.”
He continued, “We can still come together and minister to one another and minister to our community and be a part of Eureka Springs.”
Golaway said there are three main communities present in Eureka Springs: those who live in the city, those who work in the city and those who play in the city.
“We’re trying to find ways to touch all three of those communities and incorporate ourselves in them,” he said. “I’m looking this summer to begin a Sunday night service to give an opportunity to worship to those who work on the weekend and can’t attend services.”
Golaway said he enjoyed working with the ministerial association to provide a Sunrise Service to the community this past weekend. Golaway said other ministers in the area led prayers, invitations, benedictions and music.
He said Easter is an incredibly important date for Christians.
“Easter is the celebration of the most catastrophic date in universal history,” he said. “The death and resurrection of Christ is the most pivotal point in all of human history because they changed the rules for everything. For us us Christians and believers, as we come to that celebration it is the recognition of its importance in our eternal destinies.”