Mt. Moriah Fellowship Baptist Church holds 194th homecoming

Published 5:11 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

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Over 100 worshipers gathered at Mt. Moriah Fellowship Baptist Church to celebrate its 194 years during a homecoming event held Sunday on the church grounds.

Don Carmichael Jr., a key organizer of the homecoming event as well as future events with the church, said members in the past have come from as far as the West Coast to see one another. 

“I think a lot of us, having come through COVID and lockdowns, when the lockdowns were lifted, there was just an eagerness to be back together with people and fellowship together,” Carmichael said. “We realize we’re created for fellowship and relationships, and most of us only see each other once a year here. I think it’s very meaningful you’ve got families that go back four, five and six generations from this area, and we value it.”

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He added with the pressures faced in modern times, the homecoming serves as a way for members to recalibrate and refocus.

“It’s almost like an anchor,” Carmichael said. “It helps us sort of reset priorities of what’s really important in life with other people.”

In recent years, the homecomings were held via Zoom due to COVID, and while Carmichael said it brought an advantage where people who normally couldn’t attend were able to participate, it created other challenges.

“It was really fun, especially for some of our older, white-haired members,” he said. “They figured it out. The first year, we tried to sing together, and we didn’t know how bad it would be because of the time delays, and it was hysterical.”

The homecoming for the church, founded in 1828 on the county line of Butler and Wilcox counties, featured the standard structure of a worship service, with an invocation, the singing of hymns, an offering, a sermon delivered by guest speaker Dr. Jeffrey Leonard, and the benediction before a feast held at “The Arbor.”

Leonard’s sermon, structured around Psalm 90 and personal anecdotes, discussed the notion of time from a variety of perspectives and how all must learn to embrace their mortality.

“I think that Psalm lines up well with what this family has been doing,” Leonard said. “It’s a Psalm that’s all about treasuring moments, building legacies, and praying that God would help you see the work of your hands endure.”

From a personal standpoint, Leonard said he appreciated the opportunity to guide the sermon.
“What’s so wonderful about it is I have a connection with a student who is in her 20s, and then, her grandparents, who are in their 80s,” he said. “I’ve gotten to teach those ends of the family in different venues, and they’ve just always been so kind and loving toward me. It was a real treat to be invited and to get the opportunity to be at something this special.”

Jennifer Ellis and her husband, David, traveled from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to attend the event.
“I came (to the church) one time as a child,” she said. “I was about eight years old, with my grandmother, then I didn’t come again until 15 years ago when my sister brought me here. I’ve been almost every year in the past 15 years. I’ve made some lifelong friends who are actually distant cousins and found it really neat how much we have in common, even though we’re distantly-related. To have it culminate in a worship service is very meaningful.”

Robert Lewis Robinson, 15, caught up with friends and family during the event.

“It’s just a fun get-together,” he said. “It’s fun to see all your old pals from everywhere in the world.”

Erskine Carmichael, 90, returned from Birmingham to celebrate the homecoming.

“It’s been a long time, and yet people are still very active in the pursuit of staying together,” he said. “This cemetery is one of the drawing points, I think, too, because we have so many of our relatives buried here, and I’m going to be buried here shortly.”

He added he’s glad to see so many people returning home to honor the legacy of the church.
“This particular church has spawned many professional people who have done well, served in the military, and served in many positions,” Erskine said. “The fact it serves as a focal point for the families to still have an interest in coming back is remarkable, and I think it has something to do with the closeness of our families and the fact we consider the predecessors as people who’ve contributed to this community and country.”