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McKenzie’s Pleasant Hill draws founders’ descendants back for church’s centennialcomment (0)

December 10, 2009

By Greg Heyman

Descendants of the founders of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, McKenzie, not only have kept the church strong for 100 years but also seem to return to the place they say is like home.

The role that ancestors of current members played in establishing the Butler Baptist Association church was remembered as it celebrated its centennial Oct. 4.

Approximately 65 people attended the anniversary service — more than double the average attendance of morning worship services held the first and third Sundays of each month.

Former Pastor Howard Kervin delivered the message that day.

The service included a presentation by Don Donald, a commissioner with the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission. At the lunch that followed, attendees were treated to a cake in the shape of the church. Afterward the Chestangs, a bluegrass group from McIntosh, provided special music.

One of the members to “come back home” to Pleasant Hill Baptist, Linda Covan, said the small congregation has remained strong because of the dedication of several family groups.

“Families have kept the church going, and it’s important to the community that they have this place for worship,” said Covan, who serves as church clerk, treasurer and secretary.

She attended Pleasant Hill from 1974 to 1976 with her husband, Jim, who is a descendant of the church’s founders and was reared in the church. The Covans then moved to Wetumpka but reunited with the church when they returned to the area in 2007.

According to a history prepared by Linda Covan, Pleasant Hill’s beginning can be traced to the early 1900s, when the first pastor, F.M. Fletcher, moved to the area and immediately began a Baptist church. Joe Mixon, a great-grandson of Fletcher, still worships at Pleasant Hill.

The church history indicates John Page sold to the church for $1 the land where the first structure was built in 1910. Page and his wife, Vesta, were the parents of Vita Page, who married Honree Covan.

Honree and Vita Covan brought up their sons — Jim, Charles, Rick and Connie — in the church. All four sons still worship at Pleasant Hill. The congregation’s first building doubled as a schoolhouse and Vesta Page taught there.

That building burned in 1914.

What was left of the building was moved approximately 100 feet by oxen to the church’s present location on Nixon Road. The pews now in use were made from lumber salvaged from the first church building.

Through the years, changes to the current building have included the addition of indoor plumbing in 1997 and central air in 2000.

In November 2008, the church completed a fellowship hall, which the church history describes as “perhaps the greatest undertaking by the membership since the founding of the church.”

Seventy-four-year-old Marie Brazwell is another member who returned “home” to Pleasant Hill. She was reared in the church, where she played piano during services as a youth. After graduating from high school, she left the area but became church pianist again upon moving back to the community in 1988.

Brazwell also served as church secretary for several years.

“It’s like home to me,” she said of Pleasant Hill. “I was brought up in it, and my grandparents went there and are buried in the church cemetery. It means a lot to me.”

Current Pastor Mason Halacker assumed his position after the anniversary service was held.

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