CENTREVILLE - A lot can change in 100 years.
Congregation members and community guests recently gathered at the Centreville Baptist Church to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding.
The centennial celebration allowed time for reflection on how the church has evolved since a group of 12 congregants from First Cornwallis Baptist Church met on Jan. 11, 1918 to discuss the possibility of opening a new church closer to home.
Rev. Dr. Steve Hopper, the minister at Centreville Baptist Church, said the new church was completed in 1920 and A.J. Prosser was the first minister. The congregation shared a minister with First Cornwallis until Centreville Baptist was able to bring in their own in 1974, Hopper added.
The sod was turned for the contemporary church the current congregation enjoys in 1996, and a new sanctuary and gym was added following a call to expand in 2005.
Hopper says the roles of churches and ministers within a community have changed drastically since the days the Centreville Baptist Church first opened its doors.
“As our world has become more secular in mindsets, the role of a pastor has changed from somebody who is well known and well established in a community. Now it’s at the point where an individual minister really has to work hard to gain respect because some people really don’t understand the role anymore,” he said.
Hopper says creativity is key at a time when churches are struggling to attract new congregation members, and bring in young families.
“Church involvement helps people answer some of the big questions in life: Why am I here? Why does my life count? Where can I find meaning and purpose?”
“There was a time in the church that we were so focused on preparing people for eternity that we kind of neglected the fact that faith makes a difference in how we live here and now.”
At Centreville Baptist, Hopper is open to using more contemporary music and technology for church services and implementing engaging programs for all ages.
Church administrator Vicki Johnston point to the 100th anniversary celebration hosted Jan. 14 as a prime example of Hopper’s commitment to offering fun events for the community.
“I like to call him a keener,” said Johnston.
“He’s very enthusiastic about things that go on.”
Hopper proposed a “hat day” theme for the celebration upon noting that early congregations at Centreville Baptist typically wore nice hats to a church service.
“We asked all of the congregation to wear old hats like they would have worn back in the day… and pretty much everybody in the church had something of some kind on,” says Johnston.
More than 100 people in attended the centennial celebration, which included a special service, historical displays, the reading of a poem penned for the occasion, food and plenty of merriment.
“We had a great day… it’s really a church family,” said Johnston, who has been with Centreville Baptist for 27 years.
“There’s just so much devotion to this church that it’s amazing.”
Did you know?
The Centreville Baptist Church hosts several community activities, including Christianity courses, prayer groups, exercise and yoga classes and a drop-in after-school program from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays.