Originally created 05/29/99

Single together



Newcomers at First Baptist Church of North Augusta singles group are easy to pick out -- they are the ones waving their right hands in the air.

It's a signal for longtime members to introduce themselves, said the Rev. Ty Lochridge, the Scripture teacher for TNT -- Tuesday Nights Together -- a fast-growing group that draws from both sides of the Savannah River and across denominational lines.

If newcomers don't meet anyone, "then I tell them to come tell me and I'll see that they meet someone the next time," said the Rev. Lochridge, associate pastor to single-adults and married-adults ministries.

TNT offers a chance for fellowship with other singles, but prayer and Bible study are the top priorities. The "relationships are pluses," but the spiritual relationship with God is the most important -- if it is not right, the others won't be either, the Rev. Lochridge said.

Bob Sugg of Evans started going about two years ago, when the group numbered about 40. Now some events draw 100 or more, he said.

The study is geared to what single people need in their lives, said Erma Ellis, who joined about a year ago. "The Bible presents ways we should live and things we should do," she said.

Michelle Collins, who is in the middle of a divorce, said the Bible study has been uplifting. "The Lord is working his ways. Everything isn't bleak. There are positive things to strive for down the road."

Divorce -- a majority at TNT are single-again -- single parenting, finances and Christianity in the workplace are staple topics, said the Rev. Lochridge. He also surveys the group occasionally to identify other issues. "I am a single adult myself. but I don't have children. My life can be different from others," he said.

Robbie Ogden of New Ellenton heard about TNT from a co-worker at the Savannah River Site about a year ago. It is nice to be around fellow believers, but what he really appreciates is the Rev. Lochridge's teaching.

"He takes subjects from local news -- does a variety of topics and has a bit of humor. I enjoy him," he said. "He will break it down -- make it more individualized."

About every six weeks, members volunteer at community sites such as Golden Harvest Food Bank's Master's Table.

Nearly half the members are planning a sailing trip to Nassau. There will be Bible study in the mornings and devotionals in the evening. "We have never done a cruise before. (Though) we've gone to Hilton Head with a gathering of 200-300 single adults from Georgia and the Carolinas," said the Rev. Lochridge.

TNT also provides child care for toddlers to age 12. Every third Tuesday members have a pizza night along with the Bible study. It's a time to relax, said the Rev. Lochridge.

The top of the hour is open to 10 minutes of fellowship, followed by singing, praise and intercessory prayer. The Scripture study lasts about 30-35 minutes.

"You want to learn everything you can so that you don't make the same mistakes again," said Ms. Collins. "It never hurts anyone to learn."

Singles meeting

What: TNT singles group

Where: First Baptist Church, 602 Georgia Ave., North Augusta

When: 7-8:15 p.m. Tuesdays

Phone: (803) 279-6370

Virginia Norton covers religion for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.