ST. GEORGE – When Pastor James Hazelton moved to Utah in 1995, his original intent was to minister to the members of the Mormon faith, not to start a church. After over two decades of ministering and teaching in various capacities, Hazelton became an ordained Baptist pastor and started The Narrows Church in 2011.
The name of the church is a play on words, Hazelton said. It references Matthew 7: 13-14 from the New Testament, and also the well known geological formation found in Zion National Park. He said his wife came up with the name.
“She’s the creative one,” he said. “I would have called it ‘that church over there.’”
The Narrows Church
“We’re a contemporary Southern Baptist church,” Hazelton said. He described the church-goers as being “big on the Bible,” yet not stiff, or “holier-than-thou.”
“We’re not big on ties,” he said, explaining casual attire was welcome at the church. “We’re not about outward appearances. We want people to come as they are.”
He said the church’s basic mission is “just being simple.” Larger churches tend to get overcomplicated with an excess of specialized ministries, he said. In contrast, The Narrows focuses on three – Sunday services, children’s ministry, and discipleship (adult Sunday school).
“We’re simply for teaching the Bible,” he said.
For individuals interested in learning “the nitty-gritty of theology,” Hazelton added, the discipleship program offers 10 lessons that dive into the subject and don’t “dumb-down” the message for those who study it. “We teach people the big words,” he said.
The Narrows Church has no specific audience it caters to beyond those who are serious about learning from the Bible, Hazelton said. “People with a genuine desire to understand the Bible – they come and stay,” he said.
People go to church for different needs. Some are looking for solace and support, others for fulfillment. The bottom-line reason to be at church is forgiveness of sins, he said. As long as people looked to God for forgiveness and aid, things will work out.
“If your focus is right, your problems aren’t so disastrous,” Hazelton said.
The Narrows Church meets for Sunday services at 7:15 p.m., at the First Baptist Church of St. George, 326 S 300 East, St. George. For additional information, visit The Narrows Church website, or call 435-592-2605.
God and the Newtown shooting
With last week’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., still fresh on the minds of the nation, there are people who question or blame God for allowing such an atrocity to happen.
“The basic reality is bad things happen,” Hazelton said. “We praise ourselves when good things happen,” Hazelton said. “When bad things happen, we blame God.”
He said people are very protective of their free will – their right to choose their own course of action. “Everyone wants their free will,” he said.
Yet, when something horrible occurs at the hands of someone else using that free will, people wonder: “Why didn’t God stop him?” For people who make poor choices and know it, Hazelton said they tend to ask the question in a slightly different manner: “Why didn’t God stop me?”
In the end, Hazelton said the reason bad things happen is because of man’s fallen nature.
Hazelton: Called to Utah
Originally from Long Beach, Calif., Hazelton was introduced to Mormon missionaries while in high school. Through his own studies and consulting with others, he came to the conclusion he did not agree with their teachings. He said he prayed one night for Jesus to save him, and He did. That was in 1989. After this, he said he felt bound for Utah.
“I knew I would be a missionary to the Mormons,” Hazelton said.
He attended Calvary Chapel Bible College before relocating to Utah, and when a friend heard where he planned to go, he called Hazelton brave. This same friend, Hazelton said, was planning to minister in an Islamic country.
After reaching St. George in 1995, Hazelton became a youth pastor. Though it wasn’t originally in his plans, he said God was using the youth ministry as a way to push him in the right direction. It wasn’t until 1999 that he began to seriously think about planting a church. In the years following he travelled across the state, speaking to the congregations of various churches.
While leading the church, Hazelton continues to minister to Mormon members of the community through writing tracts, knocking on doors and occasionally meeting with Mormon missionaries to discuss various points of doctrine.
The Narrows Church will be holding a Christmas Eve-Eve service on Sunday, Dec. 23 – hence the Eve-Eve – at 7:15 p.m. at the First Baptist Church. For additional information, visit The Narrows Church website, or call 435-592-2605.
Recap of Sunday service times
Sunday service: 7:15 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of St. George
The Narrows Church also participates in college ministry called Ignite, which meets on second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at the First Baptist Church at 7 p.m.
The First Baptist Church of St. George is located at 326 S 300 East in St. George.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.