Ebenezer Baptist Church celebrates 135th anniversary on May 25

Ebenezer Baptist Church will celebrate its 135th anniversary Sunday.

Ebenezer Baptist Church will celebrate its 135th anniversary Sunday.

On Sunday, May 25, Ebenezer Baptist Church will celebrate its 135th anniversary.

Rev. Walter Lockhart, a longtime member of the church, said, “When you start talking about 135 years, it brings back a lot of memories.”

According to Lockhart, this past Sunday, the church saw visitors from Alaska, Taiwan, Washington D.C., and Colorado. He said people come from all over to celebrate the church.

“One of the magnets, or the drawing features (to the church) is the Ebenezer cemetery,” Lockhart said.

The cemetery is a separate entity, Ebenezer Baptist Cemetery Association, which hosts an annual meeting during Memorial Day Weekend.

Bert Maddox, chairman of the board of the Ebenezer Cemetery Association, said he expects a lot of people to be in attendance at the event.

“Memorial Day has always been our cemetery association meeting,” Maddox said.

He said the cemetery association is in charge of maintaining the upkeep on the cemetery and discussing those issues at its annual regular meeting.

Lockhart said this anniversary celebration “allows family from all over the country to come and be part of worship services at Ebenezer.”

The church members also expressed their anticipation for the event. One member, Mary Lou Phillips, said she was looking forward to the anniversary celebration.

“I think it will be a good time, and we’re hoping a lot of people will turn out. It’s good to see people come back,” said Phillips.

Phillips is a life-long member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, with generations of her family also attending. She said her parents, grandparents, and great grandparents attended the church, and she has been attending it her entire life. She even married her husband in that very church.

Whether the members are lifetime or newer members like Kathy Renner, who believes Ebenezer Baptist Church is very friendly and open, they are looking forward to the celebration.

“Some churches, nobody cares that you come back,” Renner said, adding, “Seeing members and former members that have moved away” brings a “unique family feel” to the church.

Memorial weekend is usually celebrated with a dine-in dinner of meat and drinks furnished by the church. This year, longtime friend and musician of Lockhart’s, Norm Foster, a resident of Colorado, will be adding to the musical festivities of the celebration. He will be playing a special tribute for armed services personnel and conclude the program with his accordion version of “God Bless America.”

Ebenezer Baptist Church has gone through many renovations and remodels in the 135 years since its establishment. It was originally built in 1879 for around $767, according to Lockhart. When the church was 100 years old, window air conditioning units were added. A new section of the church was added on perpendicular to the rear of the church, and finally after 125 years of establishment, the church had central air conditioning added to the building.

“It’s a full-time job,” said Lockhart. “It’s a joy.”

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