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First Baptist
Celebrates Anniversary

by Helen Morris


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Sunday, Sept. 21, was a day full of worship and celebration for the 175th anniversary of First Baptist Church of Grantsville.


Worshippers were welcomed in the Sunday School area, which was dedicated in September 1957.


Artifacts on display included an original pew from the early church, made by Watt Stump; a blanket presented by L.L. Ball to a member of his Young Adult Sunday School class when a new child was born; and a baby quilt crafted by Kate Holliday and Fae Cox of the Willing Workers class for a new child.



There was also the early pulpit Bible, presented by Mary Huffman Johnson; the first book of minutes (1833-1879), enclosed in a case made by Cleston Nicholas, and other albums and photos displayed throughout the church.


Morning worship was called when Rev. Greg Swisher, pastor of the church, welcomed the congregation. Old time music was presented by the church choir, with Amber Ganoe and Jenny Boggs as featured soloists.


Rick Fitzwater gave the message to the children. Rev. Doug Eades, who was the pastor of the church at the 150th anniversary, had the message.


Listening to the junior sermon message are, left to right, Ellie Stump, Levi Morris, Kennedy Lawson, Levi Stump, Sarah Gherke Harper, Kaelin Harper, Courtney Lewis and Ryleith Dempsey.


All were invited to enjoy a fellowship dinner prepared by church members and served by the Calhoun County High School cross country team.


The afternoon session featured history of the church and participation by former church members.


Sunday School teachers, left to right, Rick Sampson. Teresa Robinson, Glen Fowler, Rick Fitzwater, Joe Goodrich and Robert Bonar.


Connie Law and Brittany Law Presta, mother-daughter musicians of the church in the 1980’s, sang several numbers. Brittany started her performance career as a member of the Junior Choir.


 Bob Bonar, church historian, gave interesting excerpts of the revised Church History.


The church celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1933, 140th in 1973 (in conjunction with a note burning for the new sanctuary), and 150th in 1983.


The Choir.


For each event, a church history was published. The newest history, revised this year, was available for those in attendance at the afternoon session.


A new cookbook, prepared by Marge Gherke and committee, was also available. Commemorative mugs were available for purchase for benefit of the Relay for Life team.


 Special music was presented by Barbara Morris Full, director of the children’s choir in the early ’60’s, and Bob Morris, a member of her Boys’ Choir. The group was under the direction of his sister and made up of her brothers and fellow Sunday School classmates. Their sister, Carleen, was church organist while still in high school. Their special number was “Ava Maria/I Believe,” sung as a duet.



Dr. David Carrico, executive minister of the W.Va. Baptist Convention, gave the afternoon message.


The following recognitions were given: Mary Umstead, former church clerk for 26 years; Pearle Johnson, Sunday School teacher for 54 years; Pete Trippett, member for 65 years; Virginia Buck, member for 62 years; Don and Linda Harris, married in 1962, the day before the old church was torn down; and Glen Fowler, deacon emeritus, ordained in 1955.


Over 20 descendants of Alexander and Hannah Vannoy Huffman attended some part of the celebration. The Huffmans were two of the founding members of the church.

Many descendants of Rev. John Stump also attended. He served five times for a total of 23 years. Rev. Dwight Lowther served a term of 10 years.


Other former pastors recognized were Rev. William Taylor and wife Betty, Rev. Doug Eades and his 90-year-old mother Inez, and Rev. Jim Pearson and wife Laurie.


Pastor Doug Eades.
Pastor 1982-1984


Bill Taylor.
Pastor 1953-1958


Jim Pearson
Pastor 1993-1997


The church now faces the future, having learned from the past and ready for renewal and many more years of serving God and Calhoun County.


This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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