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Rainsville’s Nazareth celebrates 100 years of ministry in northeast Alabamacomment (0)

August 31, 2006

By Susan Chaffin Goggins

The last 100 years have seen the invention of Henry Ford’s Model T, the waging of two world wars, the rise of the Internet and much more. Standing through it all has been Nazareth Baptist Church, Rainsville, in DeKalb Baptist Association, which was founded in 1906.
On July 30 this year, the church marked its birthday with a centennial homecoming celebration. More than 500 people attended the service, which featured former pastor Allen Atkins as the guest speaker. Dinner and a concert by the musical group Valor followed the service.
The Nazareth Baptist congregation also looked toward the future during the celebration, gathering in the parking lot to release helium balloons with a gospel message attached. “We released the balloons as a symbol of the gospel going forth from this place, and we pray that it always will,” said current Pastor Roger Graham. 
The homecoming was part of a yearlong celebration on the theme Remembering the Past … Reaching the Future. 
Kathy Higdon, church office manager and member of the anniversary planning team, said the team began planning for the celebration in 2005. 
The first half of 2006 focused on “remembering the past” and featured an old-fashioned day in January. 
For the rest of the year, Nazareth Baptist will be “reaching the future” with children’s and youth events such as revivals, concerts, retreats and fun days. 
Logos, banners and billboards for the year were designed by Music and Media Minister Robert Reed, who attended Nazareth Baptist as a child.
“Sunday’s centennial celebration was absolutely amazing,” he said. “The whole day was full of memory and possibility. It makes me excited about the future and what God can do if we remain faithful to carry on the legacy that has been passed down to us.” 
According to Higdon, the church actually turned 100 on July 28. On that day in 1906, 15 charter members adopted the Articles of Faith of DeKalb Association and the church covenant and name. Nazareth Baptist became a member of DeKalb Association in October 1906. The church first met in a log cabin and erected its first building in 1924.
Graham said one of the highlights of the July 30 celebration was a video tracing the history of the church. 
“It was very emotional, especially when the church was rebuilt following a fire (July 6, 1976),” he said. 
The congregation met in the cafeteria of nearby Plainview School until a new church was completed in the summer of 1979. 
In the 1990s, a new sanctuary was built, and the existing building was converted to an education building. The present-day campus was completed in 2005 when a two-story life center was added.
Graham, who grew up about 10 miles from Rainsville in Sylvania, came to Nazareth Baptist as pastor in 1990. It was the first pastorate for him and his wife, Ginger. 
“Rev. (Allen) Atkins told me this church was the ideal first church for a pastor because they would love me and allow me to grow,” Graham recalled. “He was right. Now I’ve been here 16 years. Each of our five children were born here.”
Graham said the church has lasted so long because “the Word, prayer and love for God and others have always held us together.”
He said the church wants to continue welcoming others into its fellowship and teaching them to grow in a  relationship with Jesus and to share Him with others. “If we continue to do that effectively for the next hundred years and disciple people to the best of our ability, then I see no reason with the incredible power of multiplication under the anointing of the Spirit why we can’t have at least a million folks present for our bicentennial celebration,” Graham said.

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