0825CHURCHAUDMary Ellen Perry of Flowery Branch United Methodist Church recalls growing up in the church.
FLOWERY BRANCH — The building has changed several times, but the worship has remained constant for 146 years.
Through the telling of old stories and a potluck dinner in the fellowship hall, Flowery Branch United Methodist Church celebrated that anniversary Sunday with a special homecoming service.
The church at 5212 Spring St. also set up a display outside the sanctuary showing its history, featuring pictures and other artifacts, including shovels that had been used at the groundbreaking on the current 20-year-old building.
Longtime member Henry Skipper handed out commemorative mugs as people entered the sanctuary.
Pastor Joshua W. Carr spent a few moments during the service allowing some members to recount memories of the church.
Mary Ellen Perry, the church historian, said she recalled the white clapboard church that stood until 1955, when a new red brick building replaced it.
"I have a vague memory of standing in front of (it) in my Easter outfit having my picture taken," she said.
She also recalled Bible school each June and sitting under an oak tree in the side yard eating banana sandwiches and drinking grape Kool-Aid.
"That’s a wonderful memory I have," she said.
Perry also recalled attending the children’s Christmas program on Dec. 22, 1985, and thinking "how beautiful the church was decorated."
The next morning, "our church had been destroyed by fire," Perry said.
The historic display featured old newspaper clippings about the fire, with one story saying the possible cause was faulty electricity.
"I just want to tell everybody that this church and this church family have influenced my life greatly," Perry said. "It’s made me the person I am today."
Carolyn Bagwell said she remembered when she was in the fourth grade, a church member complimented her on her dress.
"We didn’t have a lot of things in life when I was growing up," Bagwell said. "I just need to be accepted, and (the church member) gave me the love and acceptance I needed. Sunday after Sunday, she always would tell me how I pretty I looked.
"I learned from her that all of us need to love and accept each other."
Bagwell also recalled the church fire, noting that "We came back." She also remembered her wedding and the weddings of her two daughters, all at the church.
"We’ve seen many pastors and members come and go and good times and bad times," she said.
Member Gene Reed, speaking from the choir loft, also talked about growing up in the church.
"It’s meant a lot to my life, but it has also meant a lot to this town and this community," he said of the church.