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Opp’s New Hope marks 150th yearcomment (0)

June 4, 2009

By Deirdra Drinkard

With a promise to give themselves to God and carry out “gospel disciplin’,” two men and two women gathered in a vacant log dwelling April 30, 1859, to constitute Clear Creek Missionary Baptist Church.

On April 26, 2009, 85 people — more than three times the average Sunday attendance of 25 — came together to celebrate the 150th anniversary of that church, now known as New Hope Baptist, Opp, in Covington Baptist Association.

To get into the spirit of the day, church members and attendees were encouraged to dress in attire of the early 1900s. “By asking them to dress like early 1900s, we wanted to recreate that time period,” longtime member J.L. Wallace said.

Pastor Dale Alexander said the women wore period dresses and bonnets to the anniversary celebration, while the men had on white shirts and overalls.

For a while, the church — as Clear Creek Missionary Baptist — worshiped in the same log dwelling where the first meeting was held. The building was known as Old Shorter House.

At its first baptismal service, the young church baptized eight people.

During the Civil War, many members left to serve in the Confederate Army. Clear Creek had no regular services during that time. The war claimed the lives of three members, one of whom was Joel McLlendon, the church’s first clerk and deacon.

During a postwar revival in September 1865, Clear Creek changed its name to New Hope Baptist. Although the church’s history gives no reason for this action, it is believed that the name was changed to honor those who died in the Battle of New Hope Church in Georgia. As the years passed, the log building fell into disrepair. So in 1916, the church built a structure that is still used today.

At the anniversary celebration, members shared memories of the church’s influence and happenings through the years. In recognition of 150 years of service, Larry Cummings, Covington Association’s director of missions, presented the church with a plaque, as did the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission.

The celebration of the church’s legacy included a look at Kingdom work in the days ahead. “We hope to grow the church and strengthen the believers’ faith in Christ,” Alexander said.

To accomplish that, New Hope recently began a visitation ministry in which members meet every Wednesday to travel throughout the community, contacting people and inviting them to church.

“We want to see people come to the Lord,” Alexander said.

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