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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

New Winchester church celebrates milestone

Monday, May 11, 2009

The New Winchester Baptist Church will celebrate its 175-year anniversary on May 16.
Just over the Putnam County border in Hendricks County sits a little white church that will celebrate a milestone on Saturday, May 16. The New Winchester Baptist Church is 175 years old this month.

Rev. Buddy Goss and the congregation invite the public to share this occasion with an anniversary celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. at the church located west of Danville on U.S. 36 in New Winchester.

There will be introductions of past pastors and their wives, remembrances from the congregation, music by the Grace Trio, food in the Rissler Fellowship Hall and time for reminiscing and good old-fashioned visiting.

The church is an active member of the White Lick Association, American Baptist Churches Ind./Ky. Dr. Larry Mason, Executive Minister of ABC IN/KY will also be at the event.

Those attending will receive gift bags and a history of the church. A time capsule will be on display and will be buried at a later date. It will be unearthed on the churches 200-year birthday. Anyone who wishes to place something in the capsule is invited to bring it to the celebration.

On the second Saturday in May 1834 a committee from the Danville Baptist Church and the Palestine Baptist Church met at the home of one their members to make arrangements for the charter of the new church to be called Mount Vernon. The first church roster named four men and seven women.

Ten years later the name of the church was changed to its current name, the New Winchester Baptist Church.

"In July 1834, the male members were told to select a plan for a meeting house and report at the next meeting. The church agreed to give John Lewis $1.25 for a certain acre of ground to build a meeting house on," says the history of the church by the Rev. Harry J. Bailey.

In 1844, a plan was drafted to build a structure. The history of the church doesn't say when the building was completed or at what cost. It does record allowing any orthodox denomination of Christians to worship in their house in Sept. 1846. In May 1847 the records show the church agreed to provide a hymnbook for the pulpit.

In 1867 the church began to talk of a new meeting house. It was completed around 1868. It was a frame building erected just west of the old church on the same lot.

New Winchester Baptist was the site of a number of soul-stirring revivals, including one in Jan. 1850 that continued for 10 days and nights. Two years later in Febuary, another meeting continued for 15 days when 39 members were received into the fellowship of the church.

In 1941, a revival service was held by a 15-year-old preacher and the church's history says "Many people came from all over to hear this young man. He was from Little Rock, Ark., but he and his parents were living in Indianapolis where he was attending school."

The church was repaired and remodeled in 1899. A vestibule was added along with new seats and a pulpit desk. It was papered and carpeted at a cost of nearly $1,000. In 1912, new floors were put in and a cement walk and steps were added.

Much of the repair work and additions to the church were done by church members. The membership of New Winchester Baptist was active from the very beginning in their church.

A "Sabbath School" or Sunday school was organized by the church around May 1865. At the same time, the church appointed a committee to raise funds to purchase an organ for the Sabbath School. It remained in use until 1914.

Early on, the church supported missions to get Baptist literature and bibles into the frontier areas. These missions were one of the things that divided the church, with the Primitive sects not believing in missions.

"The frontiersmen feared control of the local church because the Eastern churches controlled mission funds. They feared the funds would be used for non-mission use. Some white settlers opposed Isaac McCoy's work with the Indians because they remembered their treatment at the hands of the Indians."

Still others believed there was no scriptural basis for missions and thought that missions were the work of the devil.

From May 1920 to April 1921, contributions to the church missions were recorded as $1,076.10 -- a banner year in missionary contributions. By 1999, the church was giving 12 percent of its income to missions.

Today they support several missions as well as provide special needs for church and community members from donations of food to paying utility bills.

"Winter coats have been bought and other clothing. Gas and food for people traveling have been supplied when they have difficulty," says the history.

They also donate items for the Food Pantry in Hendricks County as well as provide Christmas help for local families.

In 1948-49, the long time dream of the church members was realized when a basement was built under the church. The area is used for Sunday school and fellowship dinners.

The church purchased three acres of land west of the church from Emmitt Parr and one acre in back of the church from the Hardin family in the early 1970s. In 1974, the addition of classrooms and a baptistery were built on the rear of the Sanctuary.

Longtime church member Joy John is looking excitedly toward the anniversary celebration.

"I've been a member of this church since I was a little girl," she said.

"This is such a monumental event for the church. We hope the community will join us in celebrating."

The New Winchester Baptist Church is located 6746 West U.S. 36, which is west of Danville on the north side of the highway.

For further information, contact Joy Johnston at 745-2853 or email her at joyjohn@earthlink.net, or Ronald Faulkner at 745-6992.

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