A Country Church Homecoming

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal 8 Comments

church-building Homecoming means coming home to what is in your heart.

Our church, Goshen Baptist, had a homecoming yesterday. We celebrated the church’s 204 years as a church. To put that a little in perspective, I looked back into history. Of course, 1812 was when the United States fought the War of 1812. It’s also when Louisiana became the 18th state. Kentucky had been a state for 20 years and Isaac Shelby, Kentucky’s first governor, was elected governor again after years out of office. Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio were the western frontier. James Madison was president, the country’s fourth president. All that to say, that was a long time ago in the history of our country and that many years makes for the opportunity for many people to have entered our church doors to worship.

A people without history is like the wind on the buffalo grass. ~Lakota Sioux Proverb

The church originally met in members’ homes before a log structure was built for a meeting house. The present sanctuary, pictured here, was built in 1889. That would be the main structure without the addition of the Sunday school rooms on the side that were added in the 1940’s. The front entrance way was probably added later too since at the beginning there were two doors, one for the women and children and one for the men. That building was dedicated on Sept. 29, 1889 by Bro. B.F. Hungerford, who made this entry in his diary.

  “Took an early start for Old Goshen church 7 miles from Lawrenceburg to preach the dedicatory sermon of their new house of worship. Br. Burford is a slow driver. Road hilly and rocky. Was two and one half hours going 7 miles. Was worried at the pace but couldn’t complain. Reached there at 10 1/2 a.m. House full of women and babies. Woods full of men and horses. After some choir singing, preached the sermon. Text Psalm 127:1 and Ex. 19:4,5,6. An old time basket dinner.”

church1And so, we continue the tradition of the “old time basket dinners” at Goshen. We had one yesterday with our families cooking multiple dishes and packing them up to bring to share. We no longer have to pull farm wagons up into the yard to set out the food. We no longer have to worry about the weather raining on our picnic since a few years ago we built a fellowship hall where we get to enjoy our church dinners under roof in the comfort of air conditioning. We named the building after our current pastor, Rev. Fred Knickerbocker, who has been our pastor now for well over thirty years. He was a teacher whose students called him Mr. K. So now we call our fellowship hall K-Hall. He likes that.

When we were building it several years ago, it wasn’t finished on Homecoming Day. No air conditioning. We decided to go ahead and use the building for our dinner anyway. Naturally that was an unusually hot first Sunday in October. 90 degrees. But we had windows. Then our deacons decided to work on the yard and somebody gave them used straw from a horse barn. Great for the yard. Not so good for the appetite as that odor swept in the windows. But we all held our noses, laughed it off and enjoyed the great food.

So many great Homecoming memories. Does your church have homecomings? What are some of your memories?

To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward. ~Margaret Fairless Barber

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Comments 8

  1. Marihelen Ligon

    My current church is not that old, but I grew up in a church with a long and storied past. It was not, however, as old as yours. I’m so happy for churches with a history like yours. They are truly to be loved and cherished.

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      Author
      Ann H Gabhart

      I love the small country churches, Marihelen, but many of them, like ours, are struggling right now to find their place in today’s world. We’re a traditional church in a world that’s changing. We have big churches nearby that can offer so much more than we can with programs for the children and young people and for the older people too. Our church lacks the workers and energy to offer anything even slightly comparable. So, it’s no wonder that new families moving into the neighborhood look to the big church for their new church home. That’s not to say there aren’t many unchurched people in our church neighborhood, but we aren’t doing a very good job reaching out to them. But then a church similar to ours in our county stepped out in faith, built a new building and with a dynamic young preacher they became one of the bigger churches in our area. So, perhaps all in the Lord’s good time and purpose.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Sometimes the new churches are more dynamic, Rory. Our church needs some of that new dynamic energy in a few members. Glad you enjoyed reading about our church’s history. Homecomings there are always fun.

  2. Melissa

    Love old churches and homecomings. Our church in Winchester VA was built in 1732. Over the years, new sections were added on. There is so much Civil War history in that church and on the grounds. We moved away a few years ago, but, still keep in touch with people at Opequon Presbyterian Church.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Wow, Melissa. Your church has ours beat by a lot. That even pre-dates the Union. I’m sure that church has some great history and wonderful faithful tradition. A few years ago we got a letter from a church in Virginia saying that our church which was formed from a church called Salt River here in Anderson County actually had roots in their Virginia church. Not sure of the name of the church now, but it’s interesting to think about the heritage of faith in our country.

  3. Paula

    We have only been at our present church just over a year( we retired and moved ) but every year we have Octoberfest! That was last Sunday since that was the Sunday we could get the German band! No beer but lots of good German food! Nice time of fellowship, too. It ,too, was warm in Missouri so they had to lug the tables inside after having set everything outside with hay bales and pumpkins. But it was fun.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Paula, I think it’s great when churches have special events to pull in visitors and encourage past members to come back and share in the church’s good times. I’m actually going to one of those kinds of events tonight with my husband and his singing group. One of the places they sing almost every year is a Methodist Church that instead of a traditional Homecoming pot luck meal, they have a burgoo. They are even now cooking that burgoo in huge iron kettles over an open fire. You show up with a pan and a spoon and the men will dip you the burgoo right out of the pot. I wrote about that here on One Writer’s Journal a few years ago. I may have to hunt that post up and repost it. 🙂

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