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Hopewell Baptist marks milestone

Church reaches to the past to celebrate bicentennial

POSTED: July 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Hopewell Baptist Church's Pastor Robby Foster, right, greets Jack Dale at the church's 200th anniversary service Sunday.

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On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, close to 1,000 people gathered at Laurel Park to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Hopewell Baptist Church.

The celebration began earlier in the day with a church service, where about 1,300 people came dressed in old-fashioned clothing.

Robby Foster, pastor of Hopewell Baptist, said people were dressed in a variety of costumes from "Rhett Butler and Scarlett to the farmers and commoners."

After the service, members of the congregation were invited to Laurel Park to celebrate with activities, such as sack races, horseshoes, volleyball and softball, and also to enjoy homemade ice cream and barbecue from Smokehouse.

Carey Jones, director of children’s ministries, said there were special activities for the kids, such as the water park, a balloon artist and an inflatable slide.

"Our church loves children, and we strive to minister to them and their families," she said.

Both new and old members of the church celebrated the anniversary.

Curtis Hatcher, the oldest deacon of the church, has been a member for 40 years. He felt called by God to accept the position of deacon in 1977, he said, and has been doing it ever since.

"It feels good to celebrate 200 years, and I enjoy being with this church family and fellowshipping with others," Hatcher said.

Karen Ransom’s family has been a part of the church’s history since the 1850s. At the service, she had the opportunity to wear a dress her great-great-grandmother made and wore to the church 150 years ago.

"This service was so special, and when I wore that dress, it was a humbling experience," Ransom said.

While Mary Perdue only has been a member for five years, she said that Hopewell is a powerful church.

"There is something for everyone, and once you start going, you can’t stop," Perdue said.

David Pate, another newer member, said that since he has been a part of the church, the growth has been phenomenal.

"Even though the church has grown, it still feels like a small church and everyone has a ministry," he said.

Associate Pastor Gary Wilson said that this celebration was humbling to him.

"It’s an incredible feeling to know that I have had a small part of the history of this church. ... We are continuing to grow as God sees fit," he said.

Wilson’s job is to make sure the church is living out its vision and mission.

One major part of the church’s vision is missions. Stanley Hill, a member for seven years, has been on more than 60 mission trips, both inside and outside of the United States.

"The church has grown because of the missions," he said.

He believes that everyone has a gift and "whatever your gift is, God can use you."

Greg Worley, high school youth minister, said missions is also a big part of the youth ministry. Youth are "the next generation of Christians," he said, and there are many short-term missions projects, both in this country and abroad, to get them involved.

Like the other members, Worley said he was honored to celebrate the 200th year and to "look back and see all the faithful people of the past."

He said he hopes when people look back on these days in the future, they will remember the good and faithful things done by his generation.



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