Pastor Don Bollinger said that his main passion as a minister is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his congregation at Christ Community Church of Hernando decided to put "Christ" in the church's name from the start.
Christ Community Church was founded in September of 1996 by members of a Bible study who met in the living room of a local home.
Walt Starr, one of the early founders of the church, said the church was founded by four couples, Bettye B. and Laney Funderburk, Billy and Burlie Baker, Malcom and Mev Baxter, and Walt and Julie Starr.
"We started the first Sunday of February in 1996," said Starr, who was among the original couples who began the church. "We have stressed the teaching of the Word and supportive ministries," Starr said, adding the church has missionaries in Europe and Japan.
Bollinger and his wife Joy came to Hernando in 2010 when Don was named as the church's pastor.
Don Bollinger hails from Baltimore, Ohio, which is approximately the size of Hernando, according to Pastor Don.
"It's probably the size that Hernando was before the boom," Bollinger said of Baltimore, where he was born and reared.
Bollinger freely acknowledges that he was not raised in a Christian home or attended church much until he became a Christian at age 19.
That life-transforming moment changed his life forever.
"I was attending a United Methodist church but it was a very evangelical church," said Bollinger. "It was a very fast-growing church. The pastor wanted to reach out to young people, especially. I had heard the Gospel for the first time in high school. Two years later, I went to Bible College, which is now Ohio Christian University."
Bollinger met his wife Joy, who is from Michigan. They were both 23 years old when they married.
Joy Bollinger is now helping with the church's children's ministry. She is also a teacher's assistant at Southaven High School. The Bollinger couple have three grown children and will celebrate 29 years together in marriage this year.
"It's important to note that going to church doesn't make us a Christian," Bollinger said. "People need to have a relationship with Christ. I really do feel that at least from the standpoint of Christ Community Church that people here have a relationship with Jesus Christ."
Bollinger said arriving more than seven years ago, he and Joy have had the pleasure of experiencing true Southern hospitality.
"The Southern hospitality mixed in with the love, mercy, grace and truth of Jesus Christ is a wonderful combination," Bollinger said, noting the church's traditional style of worship, coupled with "praise choruses" resonates with the congregation.
Bollinger said he is excited about the church's future. His ministry is straightforward and true.
"As a pastor, my passion is to teach people about Jesus," Bollinger said. "I believe as a pastor that I have the ability to show people the love of Christ. I love this community and this state. "This is a very loving church."
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.