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Jemisonís Center Hill Church observes 150 years as congregationcomment (0)

July 22, 2010

By Kristen Padilla

In a church that averages 50 in Sunday School, there was no better way to conclude its 150th anniversary celebration June 27 than with the baptism of its newest member, communicating to the approximately 180 present that the church is “going to go on.”

“[The] service and anniversary was an indication from God that we should continue,” said Euleta Guy, clerk of Center Hill Baptist Church, Jemison, and chairwoman of its anniversary committee. “We are going to go on. God’s going to be faithful to us; we’ve got to be faithful to Him.”

And it was God’s faithfulness that was the focus of the celebration. One way this was shown was through three former members sharing what the Chilton Baptist Association church has meant to them.

One of these, Shawn Lowery, answered the call to full-time ministry while serving as the church’s minister of music and youth. He remained at Center Hill Baptist for four years before going to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

“It was a place that I grew and learned about ministry,” said Lowery, who now serves as minister of students and activities at First Baptist Church, Portland, Tenn. “They were loving and accepting and allowed me to learn how to do ministry.”

The faithfulness of Center Hill members, both past and present, was also recognized.

Former and current deacons and staff members present that day were given a certificate and a glass Communion cup that the church used approximately 40 years ago.

Everyone who had been baptized and married at Center Hill was recognized, and the church itself was recognized by the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and Chilton Association.

Charles Langston was singled out to receive the title of deacon emeritus — the first person in Center Hill’s history to be so honored. It was a “total surprise” for the 71-year-old who has served as a deacon 42 out of the 43-and-a-half years he has been a member of the church.

“I was crying like a baby,” Langston said. “It was an extreme honor.”

Center Hill has a rich heritage with many members being the sixth and seventh generation of direct descendants of its founders. Although not much is known about the church’s beginnings other than it began in 1860, records show that the first church building was used as a church and schoolhouse until 1895. Since then, there have been three other church buildings. The most recent building was completed in 1967.

With more than 40 pastors in its 150-year history, Center Hill has taken on the mission of giving newly ordained pastors a start in the ministry.

“In fact, we started so many young pastors until we began to think that this was the work that God wanted us to do, even if we were a small church,” the church history states.

God also wanted Center Hill to be in this particular community, Langston said, noting not too many churches have the privilege of celebrating their sesquicentennial.

“God has blessed it for this many years, and there’s no limit to His blessing,” he said.

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