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Restored church bell to ring as Center Hill marks 150 yearscomment (0)

August 26, 2010

Sometime between 1900 and 1920, the congregation of Center Hill Baptist Church, Hanceville, purchased a cast-iron bell. Its ring was heard throughout the community, drawing people to worship. Then rust and age silenced the bell.

Until now.

When the East Cullman Baptist Association church celebrates its 150th anniversary Sept. 5, a restored bell will peal from its new home in a 10-foot belfry located beside the church.

“It means a lot to me; it’s part of our heritage. The saints who have gone on to glory heard this bell; it was a part of their lives,” said church member Richard Jesse, who led the restoration of the bell.

The bell and other elements like pews figure into some of the earliest memories of 79-year-old Hue Smith, one of the oldest regularly attending male members of Center Hill Baptist.

“I was born and raised in this church,” Smith said. “As I remember my first church going, momma put me on a blanket under the bench during the church service.”

It’s good to remember the past, according to Pastor Delbert Freeman.

“We should be learning from the lessons of our past,” said Freeman, who plans to preach Sept. 5 on Jeremiah 6:16 in which the Lord tells the people of Judah to “stand where the roads cross and look around. Ask where the old paths are. Ask for the good path and walk on it.”

Freeman said his message is a call to “return to our godly heritage as a Christian community and build on what made our country great.”

The 10 a.m.–2 p.m. celebration also will include a presentation on the history of the church. Center Hill’s new outdoor pavilion will host a fish fry and music from a bluegrass gospel band.

While celebrating the past, the church, which averages between 100 and 120 people in Sunday morning worship, is building for the future with new ministries like a men’s ministry, which has grown from six to 25, and updated facilities like a renovated sanctuary, which reminds Freeman of a red velvet cake with its red and white color scheme.

“It is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen,” Smith added. “We’re proud of it.”

For more information, call Freeman at 256-747-3210.  (TAB)

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