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Fort Mitchell’s Oswichee Church ‘continuing on’ after 125 yearscomment (0)

June 28, 2007

By Suzy Lowry Geno

Continuing On was the theme of the sermon preached by former pastor Rendall Day at the 125th anniversary celebration of Oswichee Baptist Church, Fort Mitchell, May 27 — the actual date the Russell Baptist Association church was initially formed in 1882.

Carolyn Howard has been "continuing on" in the fellowship of Oswichee Baptist for 77 years. During the anniversary celebration, she and Pastor Steve Burgess received a plaque from Judge Calvin Milford of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission honoring the church for its long tenure.

Howard, who will celebrate her 98th birthday July 28, remembers Oswichee as it was when she began attending as a 21-year-old bride and mother to two stepsons. The following year, she, her younger brother and youngest stepson, both 11 years old, were baptized together in Ihaghee Creek.

At that point, the church was lit by kerosene lanterns and the main sanctuary was the only building of the church. "We didn’t have Sunday School rooms," Howard explained. One wire ran the length of the sanctuary and another the width, and curtains were draped over them to divide the space into four Sunday School rooms.

But Oswichee continued to grow both in members and number of buildings. One of the men in the church donated concrete blocks for the foundation and a Sunday School wing was added.

"Years later, my aunt, Mrs. Emmie James, had a baptismal pool installed inside. Other families gave beautiful windows," Howard added.

She remembers helping with the first Vacation Bible School, likely in the early 1950s, and has taught Sunday School and Woman’s Missionary Union classes at Oswichee, but all the members’ involvement goes much deeper.

"When I was fresh married, different families would go on Saturdays and clean the church and clean the adjacent cemetery. We had good fellowship at those times, too," Howard said. "We were and are just like one big family."

With numerous current and former members and pastors in attendance, that familylike fellowship continued throughout the day of the anniversary celebration, according to Burgess. "You could just feel God’s spirit. While the special singing group, the Lloyds, was singing, a flock of big snowy-white cattle egrets flew over several times. It was almost as if that were planned."

All the day’s events were held outside and divided by old-time dinner on the grounds, which was prepared by the women of the church and served on folding tables. Burgess led the singing with "Victory in Jesus," the one song he said he felt exemplified that day’s celebration and hope of "continuing on."

Howard summed up the day and the life she’s lived at Oswichee in one word — "wonderful."

"Somebody [at the celebration] asked me if I’d asked the Lord to let me live to be 100, and I said, ‘No, that’s His business. But if He wants me to live that long and still attend church here, I’d be thrilled.’"

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