Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Harvesters

It's refreshing to read about a church that's celebrating an anniversary instead of closing. Harvesters Baptist Church at 9488 Westminster Drive is celebrating their building's 100th birthday with various special events from February 17 to the 25. As part of their anniversary celebrations, the congregation is recreating the original opening ceremonies, including tickets sold at the 1913 prices of 25 or 50 cents. They'll be wearing period costumes, serving old-fashioned scones, and might even use the same sermons.

The original church was called the "Howlett" Church in recognition of Joseph Howlett who donated the land. In 1897, the name was changed to Sharon Church, a reference to the Plain of Sharon mentioned in the Book of Isaiah. Sharon, a fertile plain, became synonymous with all that is good, pure and holy. The building there today was built in 1912.

Is this an extraordinary edifice? A great architectural treasure? No, just a simple country church that's been part of the county landscape for a century. Fun events like this help the congregation carry on by building a sense of community. Increasingly, this kind of morale-building is what it takes to keep an old church open. And there's an added bonus for history buffs - a heritage building in use is a heritage building preserved.

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