A Celebration Parade will take place through the streets of Grove on Sunday morning as members of the First Baptist Church and Cornerstone Church lead a processional from their former locations to their new places of worship.
The two churches traded buildings recently and Sunday will be the first service in their new church homes.
Members of both congregations have been working frantically this week to move from one place to the other, painting, renovating and customizing their new churches to meet their needs and get ready for “Celebration Sunday.”
It’s like Extreme Church Makeover,” said Pastor Wilder of First Baptist Church.as he measured to drill another hole in the back of a chair for a literature holder.
Pastor Bill Lay of Cornerstone Church says his congregation has spent many hours, especially this week moving into their new building.
“Some of our people have taken a week off of work, some have worked countless hours and there are a couple who have put in hundreds of hours to help do this,” said Lay. “I am just overwhelmed at the sacrifices some of the people have made to get this done.”
Even pastors from other churches turned out to lend a hand this week as both congregations passed each other in the halls carrying out furniture and boxes..
“This is the real spirit of Christianity,” said Lay, “it’s been amazing to see this all work out like it has.”
Pastor Lay has been the pastor at Cornerstone Church for almost 20 years and is excited about the possibilities since the decision to move has been made. “We are going to be able to do a lot more outreach, more discipleship, and more life enrichment ministry now,” said Lay.
The church has also been hosting Angel Food Ministries which will now be distributed from the building on Main St.
The new building for First Baptist will also meet their needs by giving them a bigger sanctuary and more classrooms. “We had about 120 here when I came here 6 years ago and now we are running about 350 on Sunday mornings.,” said Wilder
The Baptist church is discontinuing its early morning, 8:15 a.m. service on Sunday mornings and will just be meeting at 10 a.m. each Sunday
While Cornerstone Church will meet at 10 a.m. this Sunday, the services each Sunday thereafter will begin at 10:15.
On Sunday morning, Sept 27 each congregation will meet at their old church building for the last time.
The marchers will begin lining up about 8 a.m. at each church and will proceed through the streets followed by vehicles until they reach the Kiwani’s park on Mill St.
A ceremony filled with prayer and well wishes will begin at 9 a.m. at the park.
Among the highlights will be the exchanging of keys by the pastors of the two churches. Both pastors are also scheduled to pray for each other’s church before heading to their destinations.
The First Baptist Church has been located at 501 S. Main for more than 100 years and has seen many changes through the years.
One of the changes was the removal of the bell tower and the bell that was in it since the church was constructed.. The bell has been in a church member’s barn since the tower was removed several years ago. The original bell will be trailered to the park as well, where it will be ceremoniously rung.
The move and the ceremony will be bitter sweet for some. “I feel like it is a great solution for both churches,” said First Baptist member George Hays who lives northeast of Grove, “It’s a big commitment for our church but I think if Pastor Wilder says we can do it then we can do it.”
Members of the church on Wednesday were already busy readying Sunday school classrooms and practicing for choir. The Christian Medical
Clinic will also be moving with the First Baptist Church. The clinic is held on Thursdays at the church.
First Baptist also is planning to begin a Saturday evening Contemporary Music service beginning October 3 at 6 p.m. already as a new outreach to the community.
Cornerstone church member Ray West, who will serve as the Grand Marshall for his church’s parade, says the move will be good for both churches and he’s looking forward to the missions opportunities in Delaware County.”
Cornerstone Church will be having special guests on Sunday as well, Musicians Dean and Mary Brown will be ministering to the congregation with music.
The Browns are a well-known from their appearances on radio and television.
Following the music, the heads of the various ministry departments will share their vision for the future.
The church will also be serving lunch after the service. First Baptist Church will be serving a continental breakfast at 9:30 before their premier service which, according to Wilder, will be about an hour long.
“This is a historic time,” says Lay, “I’ve never heard of any church doing this before and it just goes to show the unity that is in Grove among the churches, just like it’s supposed to be.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11