Former members of Ebenezer United Methodist Church, in Winfield, came from as far away as Virginia and Florida to help celebrate the sanctuary's 125th year of service to the community on Sept. 29.
The event featured a special Sunday school class, worship service, catered lunch, photo and memorabilia displays, time capsule, documentary video, updated church history, a new pictorial membership directory and sale of anniversary memorabilia.
An estimated 250 worshipers attended the event.
"We had an amazing turnout," said Rev. Judith A. Emerson, Ebenezer pastor since 2006. "It was a good day to be together and praise God."
The present sanctuary, built in 1888, is the third building for the 200-year-old congregation. The church complex now includes a large narthex, offices, restrooms, social hall, kitchen and Sunday school classrooms.
The day of celebration started with Sunday school in the sanctuary, led by Joanne Davis, who played songs, recognized the adults who had attended Sunday school as children and asked the children to pick questions from a basket for attendees to answer.
Mary Smith, 76, described a photo of the church from her youth that featured the church alone in a field, and with an outhouse behind a tree on the grounds. Edwin Bennett, 86, said he was privy chairman those long years ago. "I made sure it got cleaned every week," he said with a grin.
The worship service opened with the combined children's chorus singing "Hallelu, Hallelujah, Praise Ye the Lord." The children were then led out for crafts and face painting.
In her sermon, Emerson focused on the symbols of the congregation's faith, namely, the cross above the altar and the eight stained glass windows, but mostly on the aisle from the back of the sanctuary to the altar.
"It's the walkway between the altar and God's world, where so many began their walk of faith," she said. "The aisle has led worshipers to their baptism, wedding, confirmation and funeral. For 125 years, that aisle has been the walkway where people put feet to their faith."
The service included remarks from the Rev. Rick Gray, Ebenezer pastor from 1981 to 1990, and District Superintendent J. W. Park, from the United Methodist Church's Baltimore-Washington Conference.
After a group photo, the congregation had lunch.
Time was allowed for viewing the displays throughout the hallways of photos of past events, tickets from church suppers held long ago, histories of the church and Sunday school, and items to be put in the time capsule, scheduled to be opened in 25 years.
The day concluded with a documentary video, produced by Bill Jones, of the church's history through the years, including the two previous buildings the congregation worshiped at over its first 80 years.
"It was a grand, grand family gathering," said 125th Anniversary Committee Chairman Bob Davis. "It took a lot of work by a lot of people, but everybody pitched in and it was very successful in every way."