Gum Springs members celebrate 125 years with ‘old timey’ servicecomment (0)
December 14, 2006
By Jeremy Henderson
Memories of the good ol’ days were vividly jogged for the members of Gum Springs Baptist Church, Ashville, Nov. 18.
The St. Clair Baptist Association congregation combined its annual Thanksgiving supper with an “old timey” service to celebrate its 125th birthday.
Ladies wore long dresses and bonnets, while men — including Pastor Basil Cornutt — wore overalls under their suit coats.
“One man even wore a top hat,” said Cornutt, who has been at the helm of Gum Springs Baptist for 25 years.
A hat rather than collection plates was used to take up the weekly offering in keeping with the vintage spirit — though there remains a question as to exactly which year that spirit corresponds with.
“I wish we did know for sure, but some of the old books were destroyed,” said Becky Hamilton, Gum Springs’ church clerk.
By searching associational records and even scouring the church’s cemetery for any chronological clues that might be etched into its venerable headstones, Hamilton and company think they can safely claim 1881 as the year their spiritual forebears first gathered together in the Lord’s name.
“One of my friends and I searched the books for a long time out at the courthouse, and we weren’t able to go back any farther,” she said.
Lonette Berg with the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission presented the church with a plaque in recognition of its 125 years, as did St. Clair Association Director of Missions Ben Chandler.
Hamilton commemorated the occasion in a long brown dress, white blouse and black cape. She brought a bonnet but didn’t wear it.
Alyson Davis, Grace Reeves’ great-granddaughter, was a bit bolder.
“She had on a bonnet and everything, looked just like one of those girls in ‘Little House on the Prairie,’” Reeves said.
Reeves, 91, has been a member of Gum Springs since 1927 and remembers a time when attending church involved a horse and buggy, if you were lucky.
“We mostly had to walk a mile and half or two miles, but that wasn’t bad on us kids. We loved it but I can’t do that anymore,” she said.
Reeves is currently the church’s oldest member, and her Sunday best Nov. 18 consisted of an “old timey dress and blouse.”
“I was the oldest one there, so I had to look old — that was the job for me,” she said.
According to Cornutt, similar participation was evident on every pew.
“Most everybody participated and wore old clothes, and everyone seemed to enjoy it,” he said. “We’re thinking of making it an annual thing.”