Natchez church free of mortgage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Songs, prayers and words of gratitude resounded through the sanctuary of Christian Hope Baptist Church Sunday afternoon at their mortgage burning ceremony.

The church property on the corner of LaSalle and Gayosa Streets was bought in September 1996, and the mortgage was paid off in full less than ten years later, on July 14 of this year.

&8220;God tremendously blessed us with this property,&8221; said the church&8217;s pastor, the Rev. John W. Scott Jr. &8220;We give Him all the praise for a building in which we can minister and gather to worship in spirit and in truth.&8221;

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The ceremony included a sermon by the Rev. Eugene Williams of Mount Beulah Baptist Church in Ferriday.

&8220;It&8217;s a profound blessing to be here tonight,&8221; said Rev. Williams. &8220;When Rev. Scott told me you would be burning the note I could not believe it. I really could not believe it.&8221;

Pastor John Scott Jr. was quick to remind the congregation that burning the actual deed would not be a wise idea.

&8220;When we were researching mortgage burning ceremonies, it actually stated, &8216;do not burn the mortgage &8212; use a substitute document.&8217; There may be people who save their hard-earned pennies for years and then burn the actual document, but you won&8217;t find those people on the corner of LaSalle and Gayosa,&8221; he quipped.

When it came time to burn the substitute document, light poured through the multi-colored windows, and the pastor and ministry leaders each held a candle&8217;s flame up to the piece of paper.

The church&8217;s motto is &8220;helping other people endure,&8221; and the church members are eager to do more of that now that they are free of having to pay a mortgage.

&8220;It frees us to do a lot of different things. We&8217;re working on putting in an elevator for the handicapped and our seniors, so that they don&8217;t have to walk up these steps. We&8217;re doing some remodeling. We&8217;re going to build a center on the land across the street to help people who need help, to give anyone who needs somewhere to stay that option,&8221; said Trustee Alvin Griffin Sr.

Griffin said the mortgage was paid off so quickly with &8220;God&8217;s work&8221; through tithes and dedications.

The church was organized in May of 1994 with 22 members, and now has about 350.