Building of church a ‘marvelous experience’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2005

A new brick church stands a testament to the faith of its members, said the Rev. Percy Turner, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church on Cannonsburg Road.

With a traditional church design, tall steeple and all, the church building will be an inspiration to generations that follow, Turner said.

&uot;The people are full of faith and they are for progress,&uot; Turner said. &uot;I thank God for the spirit they have. It’s been a marvelous experience.&uot;

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Five years ago, members of Bethlehem Baptist Church pledged to raise funds for the construction, said Dr. Samuel White, chairman of the deacon board at the church.

&uot;We have a mostly young congregation,&uot; he said. &uot;We decided to initiate a plan to raise funds for a new church building and fellowship hall. Our congregation put it together, and we were able to build the new facility to seat 600 people.&uot;

Located in a quiet, rural area, the church nevertheless is a busy one, with 300 members. &uot;We’re in a remote rural area, but we are what one author calls a ‘common place,’&uot; White said.

He referred to an author who writes that people today no longer have a common place where everyone feels comfortable, that even families no longer sit together around a common dinner table.

&uot;Our church is a place where the volunteer firemen have their annual meeting. The water association meets there, too,&uot; White said. &uot;We are a comfortable place.&uot;

John Hawkins Construction Co. built the church. Hawkins is an associate minister at Bethlehem, and his son Charlie Hawkins is a deacon and son Dwane, a church member.

&uot;We chose the traditional Baptist church look because it fits into our community,&uot; White said. &uot;There are four columns in front, and we have the traditional fronted pews.&uot;

The old structure will be saved and converted into the family life center, he said.

Turner said the future of the church on Cannonsburg Road is unlimited. &uot;We’ve laid the foundation. We’ve set the example of faith that will inspire generations to come,&uot; he said. &uot;We’re people who love the Lord and have done what God has allowed us to do. And we give him all the glory and honor.&uot;

Special services will begin on Monday to dedicate the new building, White said. &uot;There will be a different minister each night, and the services will begin at 7.&uot;

On Monday, the Rev. John Hawkins will speak. On Tuesday, guest minister will be the Rev. Leon Howard. On Wednesday, guest minister will be the Rev. James Beverly. The Rev. Eli Colenburg will speak on Thursday and the Rev. J.L. Hammett on Friday. The Rev.

LeRoy White will be guest minister on Saturday. The final dedication service will be Sunday, April 17, with the Rev. Percy Turner in the pulpit.

The public is welcome to all services, Turner said. To reach the church, turn left on Cannonsburg Road off U.S. 61 North and continue about three miles.