History of First Baptist
It was in the session of New River Baptist Association held on September 3, 1891, at Snow Hill Baptist Church that a resolution was proposed by Rev. J.F. Fletcher, who had recently come to the association from the Ashe and Alleghany Association that a Baptist Church be erected in Independence, Virginia in Grayson County. County Seat of Grayson. The resolution was passed, heartily endorsing the effort of Rev. Fletcher for the erection of a Baptist Church in Independence.
Col. J.W. Vaugan and wife at once donated a most desirable lot located on main street. The lot on which Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store formerly located. The delegates present immediately pledged $1,100.00 for the new church building. The building campaign was begun and was so successful that by August 1892, a nice brick building, the best in the association, was erected and ready for occupancy. The first meeting was held in the new church on August 6, 1892, and duly organized, the Rev. J.F. Fletcher preaching the first sermon. During the business session which followed, members were enrolled, Articles of Faith and Church Covenant read and endorsed. The Rev. J.A. Taylor was elected Pastor and the Church Clerk was instructed to prepare a letter asking for admission to the New River Baptist Association.
On October 15, 1892, the Rev. Taylor tendered his resignation as Pastor. The Rev. J.F. Fletcher served as Pastor until June 1900. On Sunday, June 4, 1900, the Rev. W.A. Hash was elected as interim pastor to fulfill Rev. Fletcher’s time.
On September 29, 1900, the Rev. H.M. Fugate was called as Pastor and served until July 1906. After his resignation, the Rev. C.T. Taylor of Grant, VA, came as Pastor and served until August 1907.
On December 19, 1907, all church indebtedness was paid off in full.
There is no record of a Pastor for the church from 1907, until 1909, When on March 2, 1909 the Rev. J.F. Fletcher was again called as pastor. It was at this meeting that the church voted to petition the court to grant an order authorizing said church the right to sell their church building and lot for the purpose of rebuilding on another site, either in or near Independence. The church further resolved that the church building was not to be rented or used for any purpose other than the worship of God. There seems to be no record of when this building or lot were sold, but it must not have been long, for a new church building was soon built on a lot in west Independence. This lot was given by Ephraim Boyer and E.T. Kirby. The lot is to belong to the church as long as used for church purposes. There seems not to have been a pastor for some time between 1909 and 1913, probably while the new building was in progress. On December 20, 1913, the church called the Rev. W.A. Hash as Pastor. On January 1, 1914, The Rev. Hash held a revival, assisted by the Rev. M.F. Sanford, State Evangelist, which was very successful, there being 13 additions to the church.
On March 20, 1915, at the regular church conference, on motion by E.T. Boyer, the old church book was given to Mrs. J.D. Day, she being the oldest member (this was a great mistake as these records have been lost). In 1916 a Sunday School was organized. Mrs. E.T. Boyer was elected superintendent. The Rev. Hash served as Pastor until 1920. Between 1920 and 1922 the church had no regular pastor. In 1922, the Rev. J.R. Shumate became Pastor and served for a short time. No record of preaching or pastor from this time, except one service in 1926, until November 1930, when Rev. H.L. Coffey was called as Pastor. These were trying days for First Baptist Church. The Sunday School organized in 1916 lasted only a short time and again in 1930 we see a Sunday School organized. A Revival Meeting was held September 21-28, 1931 by Rev. J.R. Johnson for Rev. Coffey and an offering of $11.05 was given to the Rev. Johnson for his services. There are no records of when Rev. Coffey resigned as Pastor, but in January 1933, the Rev. C.H. McKnight was called as Pastor and served until December 1933, when he resigned to go other places.
W. Dwight Boyer served for some time as interim pastor. On October 14, 1934, the church called the Rev. L.B. Murray of State Road, North Carolina as Pastor. The Rev. Murray served until 1937. The church then called the Rev. W.H. Caldwell on September 11, 1937 as Pastor. We find in 1938 the Rev. W.A. Hash meeting with the church in the interest of Sunday School work. The Rev. Caldwell resigned as Pastor May 14, 1939 to take up work in other fields. There was no pastor until July 1939, when the Rev. L.D. Ussery was called as Pastor and delivered his first sermon on August 19, 1939. The Rev. Ussery came to the church from the Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. The church was at a low ebb at this time. There being only 48 members, and work was hard at first. Soon after the Rev. Ussery became Pastor, a Sunday School was again organized – the Sunday Schools organized heretofore were held only during the Spring and Summer months. Under Rev. Ussery, it was held year around and became one the leading factors in the church’s future growth.
In 1940, a Women’s Missionary Society was organized with ten (10) members. Mrs. M.G. Cox was elected as first president. This organization grew continuously and was a very active part of the church.
In May 1942, the church voted to provide Rev. Ussery a salary of $25.00 per month: all amounts greater to go into a building fund. The church had decided more space was needed for Sunday School rooms, the plan being to build onto the church and have a basement. After seeing how much work would be required to repair the church building and parking space, the church began to make definite plans to build a new church at a new location. This location being where our church now stands, one of the most beautiful sites in Independence. This lot was purchased from H.A. Bedwell for the sum of $3,500.00 and was large enough for the church building and pastorium at the back. The Rev. Ussery served the church as Pastor until June 1946. The Rev. W.A. Hash was again asked to serve as pastor until one could be called. Soon the Rev. Lake Pylant, a teacher in Oak Hill Academy was called and served until June 1947. It was during the Rev. Pylant’s Pastorate that a Youth Revival was held by four young men from Carson Newman College, namely Wyatt Parker, Calvin Parker, Dan Corroll, and Harold Tester. This group, called “The King’s Messengers”, had a most successful revival. It was also under the Rev. Pylant that a prayer meeting was begun.
In July 1947, The Rev. Allen Epperly, a ministerial student at Oak Hill Academy became Pastor and served until June 1950 when he resigned to continue his studies at New Orleans Baptist Seminary in Louisiana. The church had no regular pastor through the remainder of June 1950, until the summer of 1951 when Rev. Kenneth Wilson, who had just finished his ministerial studies at Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Ft. Worth Texas, was called as Pastor. The Rev. Wilson was the first full-time pastor the church had ever had and who lived on the mission field. It was during Rev. Wilson’s pastorate that the new church building was begun. The name of the church changed during this time from Independence Baptist Church to First Baptist Church of Independence. The Rev. Wilson resigned as Pastor in the Spring of 1954 to become pastor of a church in North Carolina. From this time until August 1956, the church had no regular pastor, but was so well-organized and the enthusiasm so great over the prospect of a new building, that the church continued to grow. It was at this time the church established the training union program. The training union was organized under the Rev. Wilson in 1953 with Mrs. J.C. Paisley as director.
In August 1956, The Rev. E.H. Puryear of Lee Street Baptist Church of Danville, Virginia was called as Pastor and served until February 7, 1960. The Rev. Puryear was a tireless worker and work was begun again on the new church building. The basement of the church was finished and worship services were held in it until the Sanctuary was ready to be used, which was accomplished during the Rev. Puryear’s pastorate. After Rev. took over a year. On August 1, 1961, the Rev. B.R. Holbrook on Joneville, North Carolina became Pastor. The Rev. Holbrook served the church as Pastor until the last Sunday of August 1965. It was during Rev. Holbrook’s pastorate that the church as you see it today was finished. Walls were painted, Carpet laid, and new pews installed. In 1962, plans were made to build a pastorium on the lot behind the church. The church borrowed $16,000.00 for this and work began quickly. In the Fall of 1963 the new pastorium was ready for occupancy. This was said to be the best pastor’s home in the New River Association. It was interesting at that time to know the approximate cost of the church was $90,000.00 and was completely paid for except for one payment of $510.00 which was due in June 1968. The debt on the pastorium had been reduced to $9,613.74 and membership at that time totaled 205.
After Rev. Holbrook’s resignation, the Rev. David Walters, a teacher at Oak Hill Academy served as interim pastor until he was called to be Pastor in March 1966. Reverend Walters resigned in August 1966 to go back to college in Kentucky to complete his education.
Reverend Robert C. Wells of Mouth of Wilson, Virginia was called as interim pastor by the church and served until July 1967 when the church called Rev. Lawrence Harrison of Colfax, North Carolina to be Pastor. Rev. Harrison came as Pastor on July 24, 1967 and under his leadership, the church looked forward to great things in The Kingdom’s work.
It was during the pastorate of Rev. Harrison that the church building was dedicated in 1968. The pastorium, built during the Rev. Holbrook’s ministry was dedicated in 1971. At that time, the church was free of debt. Some growth was experienced during the Rev. Harrison’s five and one-half years of leadership. He resigned in November 1972 to be pastor of Meadowview Baptist Church in Meadowview, Virginia.
The church did not have an interim pastor from January 1973 until June 1974. Supply speakers were provided by deacons.
Reverend Scott Good was called as pastor June 30, 1974. He had just graduated seminary and was young and energetic. During his ministry, a bus ministry started, new Sunday School classes formed, a Rest Home ministry started, a Summer worker was employed, and a lighted brick church sign was erected. The church grew in numbers and in activities. After three and a half years, Rev. Good resigned on November 27, 1977 to be pastor of First Baptist Church in Butler, North Carolina.
Reverend James Hobernicht of Low Gap, North Carolina served as interim pastor until the Rev. A. Leroy Stanley of Wilmington, NC was called as Pastor on August 1, 1978. He served the church until April 1981, when he resigned to become pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Reverend Ted Bartlett was called as interim pastor after some time of having different supply speakers.
Reverend Robert Norman from Oxford, North Carolina was called as pastor on November 1, 1982 having just graduated from seminary. During his ministry, The Brotherhood was activated and a singles ministry started. On July 6, 1984, the Norman’s were commissioned missionaries to Uganda in a ceremony at Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly. Their ministry ended at First Baptist on June 29, 1984. In November 1984, Rev. David Adams, a teacher at Oak Hill Academy, was called as interim and served through 1986. A clothes closet was established in 1985. Ruth Bedwell gave five new offering plates in memory of her mother, Mrs. Brannock. Pew cushions and new carpet were installed in the sanctuary in 1985. A new roof was put on the church in November 1985 and a new copy machine was purchased in January 1986.
Ms. Lynn Roberts became the church pianist in 1983 at age 13. Over the years, Ms. Roberts has served as both pianist and Minister of Music. Ms. Roberts still holds that position today with only a couple of times off since she started. Once in the early 1990s for college and then again in 2014-2015 to focus on her career. Ms. Roberts returned to the position of pianist in August 2015. The music ministry has played an important part in our church throughout the years. Ministers of Music have included J.C. Paisley, Penny Anderson Halsey, Carolyn Davis, Terry Harrell, Carol Wheatley and Carlene Poole. Other pianists over the years have included Eudora Halsey (organ and piano), Patty Cooke, Jeanette Nicholson, and Debbie Madden. Special music has been provided at times by Helen Anderson and Bonnie Andrews.
Reverend Richard Harrell was called as Pastor on April 13, 1986 and served until February 1989. A new church bus was purchased in March 1987, new curtains for the Fellowship Hall and Sunday School rooms and mini blinds for the foyer were purchased in May 1986. A monthly newsletter was started in July 1986. First homecoming was held in August 1986 with a pig-picking. Keith Crowgey was licensed to preach on July 31, 1988. New floor covering and wallpaper were installed in the foyer in July 1988. The church constitution was revised in August 1988.
Reverend Richard Howerton, retired, of Mt. Airy, North Carolina served as interim pastor from March through August 1986. Reverend David Adams served as interim pastor from December 1989 through May 1991. The church was painted, including the steeple in February 1990. A new copy machine was purchased in February 1990.
From 1989 – July 1994, the church was served by interim pastor, Rev. Clay Hamm. The church survived through the dedicated membership and leaders. In January 1994, after a long search by the Pulpit Committee, Rev. David Roberts was called to serve as Pastor. Rev. Roberts came from a church in Andrews, South Carolina. He was originally from the Carsonville area of Grayson County. He was ordained on June 30, 1968 and, at the time, held a B.A. degree from Carson Newman College and the Southern Baptist Seminary. He is married to Dawn C. Smith and has one son, Matthew.
Special services and activities were observed during his ministry. Church services were videoed and made available to members unable to attend services. Church services were broadcast over local radio stations occasionally. Monthly newsletters were continued. Mrs. (Dawn) Roberts worked hard to make special occasions very enjoyable and a blessing for the congregation.
On July 5, 2001, controversy between the church leadership and Pastor began due to changing literature and other disagreements. On November 11, 2001 Rev. Roberts preached his last sermon. He resigned to move to Emporia Virginia to pastor a church with a larger congregation. On December 5, 2001, the church membership voted to withdraw from the New River Baptist Association. All the groups such as “Golden Agers” and “The Baptist Women” continued. One change concerned the Baptist Camp and Convention Center at Eagle Arie. The fee paid for its use would be greater.
Reverend Hal Eaton was called to serve the church until another pastor could be found. Church activities continued under the guidance of Rev. Eaton. The church was blessed to have him to lead the membership during a troubled time. A nominating committee was appointed and a search began for a new pastor. In January 2002, a Breakfast and Business Meeting was started on Sunday mornings at 9 AM every quarter. No Sunday School was scheduled hoping to entice more church members to attend.
On October 22, 2002, The Nominating Committee announced a prospective pastor. On November 3, 2002 Rev. Jeff Harris preached a trial sermon. On November 10, 2002 Rev. Harris received a 100% vote to be called as Pastor and began serving on December 1, 2002. In August 2002, Ms. Wilma Williams was ordained the first female deacon for the church.
In January 2003, Pastor Jeff Harris was ordained at First Baptist Church, his home church, in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Several members for our church attended while poor weather kept others from participating. In March 2003, a Youth Choir was organized by Mrs. Debbie Madden.
In August of 2003 a committee was formed to review and revise the Church Constitution. Members of the committee at that time were Beckie Hash, Carol Wheatley and Larry Boyer. Mrs. Doris Halsey was appointed to oversee church renovations including the church steeple and foyer. Pete Hall and Ralph Cox were nominated to serve as new deacons and were voted on August 17, 2003 and approved. Pete Hall was ordained as a new deacon on September 28, 2003. The Building and Grounds Committee was appointed to make the church more accessible to the handicapped. We finished the year with many new experiences and blessings. Many great things were expected in 2004!
Jodie Harris was elected to serve as Youth Director. The first part of our church renovations was completed by January 2004 with exception of some outside painting which was completed in the Spring. On March 28, 2004, the church received notice about the sale of the Mundy property adjacent to the church. A special business meeting was called to gauge the interest in acquiring the property. On April 17, 2004, the church acquired one track near parsonage consisting of 0.310 acres and the track consisting of the house with 0.483 acres. On May 16, 2004, the church voted to have the Board of Trustee’s to make financial arrangements for the recently acquired property. On October 3, 2004, Mrs. Debbie Madden was ordained as deacon.
In 2005, the church began the third year of leadership under the direction of Rev. Jeff Harris, an outstanding pastor and leader. The church completed another part of the church renovation effort. The men’s and women’s restrooms where changed around and new flooring was installed in the main hallway. On June 26, 2005, the Fellowship Hall of the church was dedicated in memory of Hattie Carpenter, a long-time member of the church and the church’s Kitchen Committee. A new floor covering was done in the Fellowship Hall with a donation made by Hattie’s sister. The Women’s Mission group sponsored a food drive for Willing Partners who can serve 1,000 families every month with staple groceries. Our church collected 215 cans of food. On August 21, 2005, two new deacons were voted to serve for 2005-2008. They were Mr. Donald Newberry and Mr. Tim Smith. The first ever Church Cookbook was published in 2005 and quickly sold out!
On September 18, 2005, the church voted to install an elevator for the total cost of $56,390.00. Member donations were made toward the effort and enough members pledged to support the project that the church could move ahead with the instillation. The elevator installation was completed in early 2006.
Homecoming 2006 included photos and memorabilia provided by Mrs. Verna Benge and Mrs. Cora Lee Testerman. The original altar Bible was also put on display. It had been restored by Thomas & Gladys Collins in the mid-1980s. This Bible is now currently located at the side entry of the church as a permanent display. On October 14, 2006, the church started a program titled “Inasmuch”. This included such activities as yard work at Grayson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, shoe boxes for Christmas, work at Hostel of the Good Shepherd, lite construction, painting and yard work at residential homes, and tea party for residents of Grayson Nursing and Rehab. “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NKJV).
On October 29, 2006, Mr. Jimmy Wheatly was ordained as a deacon for the church.
In 2007, Mr. Jim Chase built a custom display for the donated original altar Bible. Another phase of renovations was finished. The third floor was painted and heat and air pump was installed in the parsonage. On May 13, 2007, Mother’s Day, our church was blessed with a dedication ceremony for Harper May Harris and Madison Lea Hall. Young’s Chapel Baptist Church joined with our Operation Inasmuch program and many wonderful community activities were completed throughout the year. The Inasmuch Tea Party was held on September 29, 2007 in memory of church member Verna Benge who passed away on September 26th. Verna was also a resident of Grayson Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
On October 14, 2007, ordination services for new deacons Joan Sexton and Cindy Kaufelt were held. Our annual homecoming was help on October 21, 2007 with former pastor David Roberts officiating. A dedication was also held for Benton Drake Wagoner. We ended the year on a sad note with the loss of long-time church member D.L. Anderson.
As First Baptist continues into 2008, we entered the year on a sad note with the passing of church member Allene Dinsmore. However, we had a brighter day on January 6, 2008, with John Mundy and son Zach Mundy joining our church. Mrs. Linda Boyer was elected to serve out the remaining term as Financial Secretary for Mrs. Ruth Hash who resigned due to health problems. Ruth served in that role from September 1986 thru December 2007. A certificate of appreciation was presented to Ruth from the church. That year the church received an anonymous donation of $1,900.00 to be used for Operation Inasmuch and for building and ground upkeep. Another anonymous donor gave a brass cross to the placed on the offering table to match the offering plates. The new brass cross was presented for the first time on Easter Sunday. Our church was blessed again on January 13, 2008 with Devon Hall joining the church family. On May 11, 2008, Fred Wellborn honored his mother by joining the church on Mother’s Day.
For the first time in many years, our church held a baptizing in Peach Bottom Creek for Fred Wellborn on Saturday, June 7th and on Sunday June 8, 2008, another baptizing was held for Ms. Cindy Buchanan, Mr. William “Buddy” Halsey, Mr. Billy Mac Halsey and Mr. Hardin Halsey at the river at Shady Shack near Mouth of Wilson, Virginia.
First Baptist Church of Independence started 2009 on a very positive note as a new projector and screen was installed in the sanctuary. A Children’s Church program was also started by Mrs. Jodie Harris to be held during the worship service. In 2009, the church celebrated our second “Baptizing and Meal on the River” with several church members dedicating their lives to Christ through baptism. Our annual homecoming was held on October 4, 2009 with speaker Rev. Mickie Norman, wife of former Pastor Robert Norman, with special music by local musician Gerald Anderson and friends.
Rev. Jeff Harris resigned on October 18, 2009 after seven years of service to the church. The Rev. Ken Morris, a retired minister from West Jefferson, North Carolina served from November 22, 2009 – August 31, 2010. A renovation of the front of the church and church steeple were also completed in 2009.
A Communion Chalice and Pitcher were donated to the church by Joan & Lawrence Sexton, Lisa and Hughey Phipps in 2010. On March 1, 2010, the church voted to remodel the parsonage while the pastor selection committee worked to find a full-time pastor. On May 23, 2010, the church voted to change from the Southern Baptist Association to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. On August 1, 2010, the church voted unanimously to call Rev. Matthew Storie. Rev. Storie accepted the call to become Pastor and started his ministry with the church on September 1, 2010. On October 24, 2010, Lois Catron and Tony Perry were ordained as deacons for the church. The first months of leadership under our new Pastor were a blessing to the church family.
The year 2011 got off to a great start under the leadership of Revs. Matthew and Melanie Storie, as Melanie was also an ordained minister. During this year two major renovation project were completed. New wiring was installed in the church as was an air conditioner for the church. New insulation was also installed over the sanctuary. It was during this time that the church voted to repair and reseal some of the stained-glass windows in the church. This work was completed by church members who donated their time to the project. In December of 2011, Billy Mac Halsey was asked to place a playground in the back of the church. He completed that project in January 2012.
In 2012, a mission trip to Guatemala was undertaken. Those traveling included Pastor Storie, Patrick Brady, Morgan Brady and Chris Morton. While there, they held Bible study, made jewelry and engaged in woodworking with the local people. A new roof and window covers were also installed during this year. The church was saddened as Edna Wingate, a long-time church member passed away at 100 years old on March 1, 2012. Another long-time member, Joan Sexton passed on March 13, 2012. Other members who went to be with the Lord during this time included long-time servants of Christ, Thomas and Gladys Collins.
In 2013, with a renewed sense of the importance of missions, Rev. Storie led several youth and church members on a trip to Lynchburg, Virginia to take part in mission activities. The steeple was once again repaired due to very hungry woodpeckers who continued to make the steeple a prime dining spot. This would prove to be a challenge for many years to come!
The women of the church formed the “Busy Ladies” group for any women who did not have a full-time job or were retired. They started their studies with a book study entitled “A Year of Biblical Womanhood”. On April 13, 2013, Rev. Matthew Storie tendered his resignation to move to a larger church in Shelby, North Carolina. On August 3, 2013, the church lost long-time member Ruth Hash who went to be with the Lord.
On June 17, 2014, the Pastor Selection Committee decided to meet first with Rev. Mike Montgomery as to the possibility of serving as interim pastor. Rev. Montgomery was asked on September 16, 2014 if he would be interested in becoming full-time pastor. He accepted the call and was voted into the position on December 14, 2014. The church also completed many renovation projects that year. Those included new carpeting and flooring in the sanctuary as well as the installation of handrails for the sanctuary stage.
With the new pastor in place, the church was filled with excitement for the year 2015. During this year, the parsonage underwent a major renovation project. New cabinet tops, range, microwave, dishwasher, and sink were installed. Painting the parsonage was completed and a new fence in the back of the parsonage was installed.
Pew Bibles were purchased and donated to the church by Mr. Roger Carpenter. On March 22, 2015, Billie and Lola Bryant joined our church family. Over the past few years, the church has been able to attract more guest musicians to perform on special occasions. Some of these have included Bill & Maggie Anderson, The Loose Strings Band, The Red Head Express, The Chuck Wagon Gang, and The Church Sisters to name only a few. These professional entertainers have truly been a blessing to our church.
In 2015, Mr. Eric Wingate took on the job of custodian for the church. The youth of the church also attended the “Youth Explosion” in Elk Creek, Virginia. Mr. Ephriam “Sonny” Cox was ordained as a deacon on August 30, 2015. A new ministry activity, a “5th Quarter” youth event was held at the church after home football games. This proved so popular, it has sense become an annual event! The church has also continued with an annual Easter Egg hunt which has proved to be a popular activity throughout the entire community. Through the leadership of Rev. Montgomery, the church continued to grow with many new members joining throughout the year.
The new year started off on a very joyful note with special singing from The Montgomery Family, the Pastor’s extended family and a special message from Justin Montgomery, a youth minister. The church celebrated new members as both brother and sister, Bret and Taya Bobbitt joined the church family on February 28, 2016. The church was saddened at the passing of long-time member Edna Patton Smith went to be with the Lord on March 1, 2016. The church hosted a prom dress ministry, “Esther’s Closet”, for any young lady who could not afford a dress. This proved to be a very successful event and a powerful ministry opportunity for the church. In April of 2016, a new women’s group, “Women’s Missionary Union”, was formed with Mrs. Anne Beamer serving has chairwoman. On August 4, 2016, deacon ordination was held for newly elected deacon Mr. David Halsey. On September 25, 2016, the church voted on purchasing a new church van. The van ministry has helped bring new members into the church and has proved to be a very valuable ministry tool in visiting the sick and shut-in.
The church approved the Pastor’s request for an Administrative Assistant and Project Coordinator to work closely with the pastor on administration and special projects. Dr. Tony Perry, a lifelong church member, was hired to become the first administrative assistant for the church. Dr. Perry started in this position on October 1, 2016.
In 2017, the church began the new year with many activities in place. An exciting opportunity arose as the church was asked to provide the After-Prom party for the Grayson County school system. In partnership with Mt. View Baptist Church, the church administered, sponsored and directed the party and it proved to be a very special event. Many church members donated their time and effort to the success of this endeavor.
Over the course of 2016 through 2017, many improvements and renovations were undertaken by the church. The west side parking lot was completed and window coverings for the stained-glass windows were also completed. The church nursery was updated with new paint, toys and furniture. A new updated church website was launched with the weekly sermons uploaded for those unable to attend on any given Sunday. A call-system was started which would allow immediately distribution of news, prayer requests and additional information to all members with one phone call. The audio/video ministry was also expanded with the addition of televisions in all teaching areas, the nursery, kitchen and the Fellowship Hall. These allow for broadcast of the Sunday sermons to anyone working in the nursery, kitchen or Fellowship Hall during special events. On September 3, 2017, the church ordained Mr. Kenneth Caldwell as a new deacon.
Other major renovations include a complete steeple restoration and having the outside of the church painted in 2017. The newest church directory was completed “in-house” for the first time in many years. The town of Independence agreed to hook the church up to the town sewer lines. This has proved to be a major project which took much planning and discussion between the church and the town. Most excitedly, the church has recently completed construction of a sign for the church on Main Street. The church also celebrated the 125th anniversary of First Baptist Church of Independence this year!
As we draw the curtain on the work of First Baptist Church of Independence for the past 125 years of its existence, it has seen its struggles, disappointments, and hardships. We also see God’s hand leading and directing its course. From the depths of our hearts we cry, to God be the glory, great things he hath done for us, but we must not, we cannot be content with past victories and as we draw another curtain peering into the future we can see before us a path untrod, but beside us a friend well-loved and known – that friend is God! So, let us go forward in the faith that “It is no secret what God can do” when we are in His will. Here is to another 125 years of serving Grayson and beyond!
This history was compiled, written, revised and edited over the years by:
Fannye Brannock, Edna S. Wingate, Joan Sexton, Susie Phipps, Cora Lee Testerman, Tony Perry, Hayden Caldwell