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200 years in His service: Union Baptist Church celebrates anniversary with special gathering

They came by different modes of transportation - mule and horse drawn wagon and buggy, as well as cars and trucks. They gathered to celebrate the anniversary of one of the oldest churches still in existence in Georgia.

Union Baptist Church, which was founded in 1809 near Thomson, celebrated its 200th anniversary last Sunday. The historical country church, which recently underwent major expansion for Sunday school classrooms, additional rest rooms, a new dining room and kitchen, is located at 2743 Cedar Rock Road. More than 200 people attended the morning worship service.

A number of the church members were clad in clothing that resembled that worn back in the 1800s. Some of the men wore their overalls, while others dressed in suits. Several of the ladies and young teenage girls put on what would have been their Sunday-best long dresses. Others meanwhile, came in more modern-day style attire.

One of those dressed for the occasion was Elizabeth Richards, a McDuffie County resident and Thomson business owner.

"It was overwhelming," said Mrs. Richards of the church's 200th anniversary. "It helped to glorify our Lord. It was also a tribute, I thought, to Him, the people of the church and the community."

The church was closed for 15 years and didn't reopen until 10 years ago - Mrs. Richards and her husband, Russell - were two of those who helped re-establish the church. It actually closed in December 1983 and didn't reopen until Easter Sunday 1998.

Following the worship service, everyone ventured onto the front porch of the historic church for a group photograph before heading to the church's new dining room where they enjoyed a variety of home cooking and delicious desserts.

Those attending the service were welcomed by church Deacon Ray Pinion and Pastor C.E. "Butch" Baston. Prior to the service beginning, the overflowing crowd gathered and sang a few songs. Bridget Taylor sang a solo.

Pastor Baston's sermon was entitled: Home is where the heart is.

"God knows the heart of each person," said Pastor Baston, emphasizing that God wants our whole hearts today.

During his preaching years, Pastor Baston said he had spent much time with terminally-ill people and that when many of them discovered they were dying, life as they once knew it suddenly changed. Many are drawn closer to God in those last days.

Pastor Baston said it's important that people know that they don't have to wait to establish a personal relationship with God.

"We've got a lifetime to serve Him," said Pastor Baston. "Your destination is determined by your heart."

Web posted on Thursday, July 30, 2009

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