HARRISBURG -- While its pastors and members may have changed during the last 150 years, those involved with Harrisburg's First Baptist Church say they are as blessed now as the day the church opened its doors.
On this particular day, Pastor Chris Winkleman, along with church members Susan Howton and Leonard Smith are excited about the church's upcoming celebration marking 150 years of service to God and the community."
"Feb. 15, 1868, is when First Baptist Church Harrisburg was formed. In the courthouse here in Harrisburg is where the meetings first took place," Winkleman said. "So, our celebration is going to be the weekend closest to that, which is Feb. 17th and 18th."
Howton has organized the anniversary celebration and created various teams to help with different portions of the event, Winkleman said.
"She's put together lots of different teams to handle specifics, but she's been the brains behind the operation," he said.
Howton, though, is quick to credit other church members for their contributions.
"We've had so many different people who have done so much," Howton said. "Leonard, and Mike Cook, and Kay Talley, who's no longer with us, brought the history up to date. That's been a huge accomplishment, but they started so early and did a great job. We're so thankful for the dedication they gave to that. Jimi Williams Cox is in charge of all the food we're going to have on two different levels and Kathleen Sperling is in charge of the style show."
The style, or fashion, show will feature church members dressed in different examples of period clothing from 150 years ago, 100 years ago and 50 years ago, she said. While some of the outfits were rented, many were borrowed or provided by church members, Howton said.
Regarding the church history, Smith said the team of "church historians" were able to take the history compiled from the first 125 years and add 25 years of updates.
"What was compiled was the first 125 years, so what we did was, we started from 1993 and went forward. What we did was we got our last 25 years of history from our church minutes from business meetings. This was how Dr. Cook and Kay and I were able to put this all together. Dr. Cook did the editing of it, and he did a super job of it."
The celebration will feature several events on Saturday, Feb. 17. Beginning at 1 p.m., there will be a video presentation, an organ concert, a quartet singing, a beard judging, the period fashion show, and a dessert/pie social at the end, which will be about 3 p.m. Sunday will feature the regular schedule, which is 9:30 a.m. for small groups and 10:45 a.m. for worship service.
While the church and its members want to have an enjoyable time remembering years gone by, Winkleman said, the priority is acknowledging a divine influence.
"We want to celebrate the faithfulness of God to the church. 150 years doesn't happen apart from God's grace," Winkleman said. "But we also want to celebrate the faithfulness of the church to God. First Baptist has weathered some pretty serious storms in the past, and conflicts, and difficult decisions have been made. And yet, here we are. It hasn't all fallen apart. That's because of God's goodness and people's desire to carry on. And, we want to keep doing that."