LEON — The Leon Baptist Church will be commemorating its 150th anniversary with a series of special services, singers and fellowship, beginning Oct. 13 and continuing through Oct. 15.
Rev. Fred Sparks, pastor of the church, said the Friday service will begin at 7 p.m. and will feature speaker Jonathan Pensin, with special music by “Grace Renewed.”
Saturday will begin with a fellowship dinner at 5:30 p.m., followed by the service at 7 p.m. The speaker will be Jack Eades, with music provided by the “Brighter Side Quartet.”
On Sunday, Nate Chapman will be preaching at 11 a.m., with Keith Peck and Sara Absten as the special singers. A fellowship lunch will follow the morning service, and then at 2 p.m. there will be singing by “Inheritance.”
According to the history of Leon Baptist Church, compiled by Juanita K. Burdette, the church is an offspring of Harmony Baptist Church in Southside. It was believed to be established when members found it too difficult to cross the Kanawha River during the winter months.
The property for the church was purchased in November 1867 for $50 from Andrew and Rebecca Ferguson. The first couple believed to have been married at the church were William and Harriet Greenlee Ferguson in December of that year.
Minutes of the Harmony church show it was not until Aug. 20, 1870 that 28 members were granted letters of dismissal for the purpose of constituting the Leon church, however. Dedication ceremonies were performed by the Rev. L.E. Peters. Rev. Richard W. Davis was the first pastor of Leon Baptist Church. Records show that in 1872, he received an annual salary of $100.
Through the years, the church withstood many floods, including the one in 1884, which left almost every house in the town somewhat submerged. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, floods became even more frequent. Water often came into the church basement, and sometimes into the main floor, when everything would have to be moved. In the flood of 1937, water reached halfway on the upper sash of the church windows.
The church building has gone through many changes during the years. Sunday school classrooms were added onto the church in 1951 that included two classrooms and a nursery upstairs, and two classrooms and an office downstairs. A water well drilled in 1952 supplied adequate water for the church to be plumbed and restrooms to be installed. A fellowship hall was built and completed in 2003, and named the Warren D. Keefer Fellowship Center.
Several other renovations and remodeling projects have taken place throughout the years.
Those interested in the church, its services, and special events, can find them on the Facebook page, “Leon Baptist Church.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her firstname.lastname@example.org.