Perryville church celebrates anniversary with dedication of parsonage

August 22, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

PERRYVILLE - A celebration and homecoming Sunday will observe the 136th anniversary of First Baptist Church in Perryville with special emphasis on a new parsonage expected to ready for occupancy in October.

"We have an anniversary and homecoming each year for those who have moved away," said Keith Johnson, deacon and administrative assistant at the church. This allows members and former members to keep up with what's going on at the church, he said.

"We'll have a great showing this year," he said. Construction on a new parsonage on the same site as the old one is about 65 percent finished. The windows and doors have been installed. Work on the siding began last week.

Johnson said the old parsonage was uninhabitable and outdated. Pastor Willie Newby of Louisville, who drives to Perryville on weekends, has been staying in a motel during construction. The new house is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in a couple of months. Johnson said there have been some delays because of wet weather, but work is expected to be finished on schedule.


The new parsonage will be the same size as the old one built in late 1890s. The new 1,150- square-foot frame structure, is situated on the same site. It has three bedrooms, two baths, living and dining area.

Johnson said several people, businesses and organizations, including the Knights of Columbus in Springfield, have made contributions to help with financing the new building.

Original deed done inn 1876

Before construction got started, the church needed a deed to the church property. Church member Amelia Burton, found the original deed, dated Aug. 22, 1876, in some papers that were kept by her late husband James, who had been a member of the church. The deed shows two tracts of land was purchased for $75 from Catherine Jones.

The deed has been framed with glass so both sides can be read, and it will be hung in the church.

The church was established in 1867 when several people obtained letters of dismissal from First Baptist Church, Second and Walnut street, Danville. They wanted to have a fellowship near to their homes and that would lessen the inconvenience of transportation.

Officers Henry Chatham, Nero Grandville, Preston Sleet, S.Q. Goodloe and Henry Peters were among the organizers.

Construction on the church began in 1879 when the Rev. Wallace Fisher was pastor and completed in 1882 under the Rev. Sam Gill.

In the years that followed, the white frame church has been remodeled several times. New pews were purchased in the early 1900s, and a basement, dining area and vestibule were added in the 1940s. A room was added to the old parsonage and a pastor's study, choir rooms and new restrooms also have been added.

Rev. Redd returned for 100th anniversary

After the church's 100th anniversary, the Rev. S.G. Redd returned as pastor for the second time. During Redd's 20-year tenure, services were conducted each Sunday instead of twice a month, the Brotherhood and Helping Hand clubs were organized, and more improvements were made. An electrical organ was purchased and a baptismal pool was installed. A painting in the baptistery was dedicated in memory of James Burton and donated by his wife and friends of the church.

Pastor Newby has been pastor since 1987. More accomplishments have been made by the historic church including organizing a young adult group called FRIENDS, radio and television ministry to reach shut-ins, prison and nursing home ministries, as well as Centers for Biblical Studies, Cultural Diversity and Family Development.

New stained-glass windows were installed in 2001, and two vans were purchased to provide transportation for conference visits and other churches.

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