One local church will celebrate a rich history, dating back more than two centuries.
Lower Fairforest Baptist Church will celebrate its 250th anniversary with a homecoming celebration today, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2012.
The Rev. Jim Cunningham said he looks forward to Sunday’s service and that all members — prior and present — along with many friends are cordially invited to attend.
The service will begin at 11 a.m., and the message will be delivered by a guest pastor — the Rev. Michael Whelchel — who is a former member of the church and the son of a former pastor.
A presentation from June Smith will discuss the rich history of the 250-year-old church including facts compiled by several families within the church. Smith will also distribute printed copies of the church’s history. Smith mentioned that her husband’s aunt, who passed away in April at age 106, was baptized at the church’s original site.
The date of the original church’s first service was Dec. 13, 1762. The original building was a log structure and was established at the fork of Dining Creek and Fairforest Creek on the Old Charlestown Highway. The original site — located on what is now a dirt road named Rooster Drive which is off of Police Club Road — is now only the cemetery of the original church, and it contains graves marked by traditional tombstones as well as stones that are unmarked or marked with the carving of initials.
“The church survived turbulent years during the Revolutionary War,” Smith said, explaining that the church was built before the U.S. was a country. “There were those siding with England and those wanting religious freedom. There were Indians and wild animals. They didn’t let those things deter them from coming to church.”
As the original log structure deteriorated, a brick church was built right beside it. Smith said that the men of the church went out and stomped the mud and dried it to make bricks for the church’s construction. The building included galleries for slaves, and the cemetery contains the graves of both white settlers and slaves. Many referred to the building as the “Old Brick Church.”
In 1933, the church was moved to its current location on Highway 49. Any timber that was usable from the old church was used to build the new one. Builders took a portable sawmill to the original site and sawed the timber there. It was then carried to the new site — which was donated by the Wilburn and Williams families — by mule and wagon.
During construction, church members met in the nearby Cedar Hill School — a building which is no longer standing.
Following Sunday’s service, a covered dish luncheon will be held at 1 p.m. in the church’s Family Life Center — a building donated by the late Jack Wilburn. Nancy Wilburn, Jack’s widow, and family will unveil a watercolor painting of the church painted by Union County artist Betsy Skipper.
Also, Nancy Wilburn, widow of Jack Wilburn, will present a drawing of the church done by Union County artist Betsy Skipper.
Lower Fairforest Baptist Church is located at 125 Lower Fairforest Rd., just off Highway 49 (Cross Keys Highway). For more information, call (864) 427-9073.