Perryville church celebrates historic 185 year anniversary

October 17, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

PERRYVILLE - A new $575,000-educational wing at Perryville Baptist Church will be dedicated this weekend during the 185th anniversary of the historic church at 204 E. Second St.

The church got off to a slow start when it was organized in 1818 by a 24-member congregation that broke away from the old Salt River Baptist Church. It took 60 years for the congregation to get its first place to worship, and then it kept adding on to fit its needs.

Since then, the church has reached out to people from the community and has outgrown its sanctuary and classrooms.

This is the third addition to the red brick church, which was dedicated in 1877. Seven Sunday schools were added in 1916, the same year the church got electricity. The first education building was dedicated in 1952, then an annex was added in 1983.

The congregation will open the doors this weekend to the new "child friendly" educational wing, complete with classrooms for children through college-age and young adults. Tours will be held 7-9 p.m. Saturday and will include a reception and fellowship.


A luncheon will follow the 10:45 a.m. Sunday service. Memorial and dedication services are scheduled at 1:15 p.m.

The newest addition to the church is located along the back of the original brick building. When the church needed more land to meet Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission regulations, National City Bank donated four feet of property, thereby making the church's tract large enough to meet zoning regulations.

"They (the bank) have been wonderful to us and unselfish," said Judy Underwood, committee chairman. "All we have to do is put up a fence."

New wing allows for more youth programs

The purpose of the new wing is to offer more youth programs.

"We can offer a more diversified program to meet the needs of the youth," said Underwood. "We're very proud of the building," she said.

The new wing has 16 classrooms, a nursery for newborns and toddlers and a workroom with an assembly room.

A library and conference room will be added later.

The church voted to build the new annex without a pastor. The building committee of Underwood, Melvin Bottom, Lloyd Brummett, Ruby Carpenter, Mike Neal, Tony Perkins, Florann Strevels, Kim Valade, Teresa Whitehouse, Donnie Leonard and David Williams did not give up on the idea of expanding, even after the pastor announced he was leaving.

"We voted to build and he left," said Underwood. "So, we went on with it."

Members are working together to complete the project. They raised more than $100,000, which was used to reduce construction costs.

They also sold cookbooks, meals and T-shirts, and raised more than $11,000 during Perryville's commemoration in 2002.

A quilting class, led by Imelda Jones, created a wall hanging containing 130 photographs of families in the church that will be displayed in the new wing. The church is featured in the center of the quilt, and the family photos flow out from it.

The Rev. J. Tom Patterson, who was called as pastor eight months ago, helped with the final stages of work on the new wing. He was called as minister of the 521-member congregation to find the project almost complete.

"It's been a joy ," he said, adding that things have been going well. "I can enjoy the end result."

He said the congregation has worked well together and that makes for a better environment in the church.

"Folks pick up on this when they come to visit," he said. "Families want to become a part of the Perryville church family."

He recalls one family, who recently joined the congregation, saying they had been looking for a church with the spirit they felt at the Perryville church.

"It's a wonderful testimony coming from outside," he said.

Two Sunday morning services are held

Patterson has two Sunday morning services to accommodate the members. He especially wants to reach the baby boomers and understand where they are coming from. "If we cannot understand them, we can still guide them and lead them," he said.

Perryville Baptist is a very moldable church, said Patterson. The older members are more set in the way they worship and more mission minded, while the younger generation is looking for something different.

Patterson said the church "cannot direct the wind, but it can adjust the sails," to make it suitable for everyone.

A former missionary to Blantyre Malawi, Africa, Patterson said his main attraction to the Perryville church was because it is mission-minded. The congregation helps during disasters, local programs for Hispanics and Baptist-sponsored children's homes.

The vision of Perryville Baptist is to "impact the people of Boyle County and surrounding communities to experience God and his will for their lives.

We will do this by providing programs that are ministry-based, fellowship oriented and encourage the development of meaningful relationships."

The bottom line is that more than a million graduates cannot read, and where learning is an enjoyment, it gives a positive outlook, the pastor said.

"The new wing is to create an environment of learning that children can enjoy. That is positive."

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