Union completes #039;labor of love#039;

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2001

The members of Honoraville's Union Baptist Church gathered on Sunday, July 8 to celebrate the completion of their fellowship hall renovation project and to dedicate the hall "to the glory of God." A fellowship potluck meal was held in the hall following morning services.

The church's history dates back to 1868, when a group of 14 men and women first met in the little village of Honoraville at a blacksmith shop.

These individuals became the charter members of the church they named "Union Baptist."

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A small wood-shuttered building became the congregation's first home.

By the end of the 19th century, the congregation was in need of a larger structure.

A large two-story frame building was constructed in 1897 that served as a church downstairs and a Masonic Lodge upstairs.

In 1962, a new red brick structure was begun in front of the old church.

This building, which serves the current congregation, was completed in 1965.

Several years later the two buildings were connected and additional classrooms, storage and indoor bathrooms were added.

Since the mid-60s, the former church has served the congregation and the community as an ideal place to celebrate anniversaries, bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays, wedding receptions and other special events.

It is used weekly by the congregation for

adult Sunday School class space, as a music rehearsal hall and for special activities for the children.

When the Lodge closed its doors several years ago, the upstairs became the property of Union, which uses the space for Vacation Bible School and other special events.

Several older long-time members of the congregation recalled memories both touching and humorous of long-ago days in the 'old church.'

"We had no bathrooms close by…there were two outhouses on either side out beyond the cemetery in back.

You had to walk a piece if you needed to go, so you couldn't wait too long," recalls former Sunday School teacher Ova Killough.

There was no baptistry so a nearby pond was used for baptisms.

The 1897 church was heated by a large wood stove in the center of the building during the winter months and cooled by a large fan in the rear of the structure in the long, hot summer months.

Generous use was made of the hand fans provided by local funeral parlors, too.

"I remember we were having a New Year's Eve watch one time out here and it was cold, cold.

We couldn't get the stove going.

Well, Mr. Joe [Killough] got down and got to fiddling around and punching it up and boy, did he get that fire roaring--we had to crack the windows open and then we had to get out of there, it was so HOT," chuckles Miss Mildred Roper, former Training Union director and Sunday School teacher of many years for the church.

"I remember when my daddy and I came down here [to the church] and we put up the posts in back and hung the bell up….Daddy would walk a couple of miles over here every Sunday morning to ring it," recalls Amos Duffell.

His wife, Lorraine, added, "I just have so many good memories of the times we had out here.

This is home to us."

A plaque to be displayed in the fellowship hall was engraved with the names of those members who volunteered their time and abilities over a period of several months to clean, paint, do wiring, ductwork and to perform other activities necessary to complete the work in the fellowship hall.

It became a labor of love and faith for all those involved.

The ceiling has been further lowered, a new subfloor installed and new wood-look vinyl flooring laid in the hall.

Dark paneling has been covered with a pale yellow paint trimmed in white. All cabinets and sinks have been replaced and substantial storage and work space have been added to the kitchen area.

New window treatments further enhance the fellowship's hall brighter, lighter new appearance.

"It looks so pretty now…we are so happy to have this nice place here to use," said Jeanette Burns, wife of the pastor.