NEWBERRY — Memories were enlivened once again as Lewis Memorial United Methodist Church celebrated a centennial.
On Oct. 14, the church family celebrated the history of the church from its meeting roots in a local home to its present location at the corner of First and Nance streets.
Ellen Callaway, member of the church, organized the event and said, “We put together a history of the church over the 100 years and how it was formed. It started in 1912 in a meeting in a local home then it moved to a local store. Then Oakland Mill helped the community.”
Current Pastor James H. Counts said that this was wonderful and went very smooth and people came to the event in which the church overflowed into the parking lot. He estimates about 150 members, former members and families showed up.
Counts is going on his third year at the church. For the church’s centennial celebration, the church brought back a former member who decided to go into the ministry.
Rob Visscher is director of Mission Central in Pennsylvania which helps with relief for natural disasters.
Visscher was a choir director in the 1990s, according to Carraway.
“We had looked at former pastors,” said Carraway, “and his name came up, even though he wasn’t a pastor, because he was someone that supported the church.”
Carraway explained that many of the pastors moved away or were deceased or just couldn’t make it.
However, Visscher delivered a sermon and also encouraged members to keep going and a couple of members talked about their experiences.
One member, Pam Brewer, penned a poem about the history and delivered it on Sunday.
Another member, Rev. Dan Bradley came back to sing.
The people of the church have kept it going.
“The Oakland Mill helped the community a lot,” said Carraway.
“When we think back 100 years, the number of people the church touched was unaccountable,” she continued.
A unique element of the church was that the church branched off a Baptist and a Methodist church. The Methodists formed what is now currently Lewis and the Baptists formed Hunt Memorial.
Hunt church is no longer around now.
“The mill itself was very instrumental in the beginning of the church. They gave land and helped with the (original) building,” said Carraway.
Now the church has about 250 members, and a lot of the members are descendants of Oakland Mill community members, explains Carraway.
Carraway attended the church as a child and then moved away in 1966 for 30 years and then decided to move back.
She says there was a lot of “digging up old pictures and memorabilia. I want to put a time capsule for the future to be opened in 25 years, for future members. I wish we had known more so we are doing that now for them.”
The church today is still quite traditional as they do not have a contemporary service with contemporary music.
The building has gone through changes throughout the years.
“I can imagine the group of people that got together in 1912 and decided they wanted to start a church and how difficult it was but rewarding,” said Counts, “from a house to a store. People who started were in their twenties and thirties.”
The church had its groundbreaking in February 1967 for the building they have now which Carraway and Counts points out a story that was featured in The Newberry Observer.
There are many news clippings, bulletins and lots of pictures that Carraway discovered and decorated in the fellowship hall for people to peruse.
In addition the church’s longevity, Carraway says that the church’s outreach is what the church wants to best be known for.
Every Thanksgiving morning, volunteers helps come and prepare and deliver meals to people and they also do the Operation Christmas Child.
“We do a lot of outreach but don’t seek acknowledgment for it,” said Carraway.
Also, every Sunday, “the children collect pennies (and other change) from the congregation for Haiti,” said Carrway.
Carraway also points out the prayer quilt ministry at the church.
“When someone is sick, we do a quilt. It’s not just for members. We pray for folks; each person can come up and say a prayer and tie a knot onto the quilt. It was started in April 2009. Currently we have given 211 quilts away through the program,” says Carraway.
Community was always a positive impact on the church as evidenced by the beginning with the Oakland Mill community to today with people still fulfilling missions.
“It’s like they say, it takes a village to raise a child,” said Carraway, “I felt like everyone in church was attentive and helped reared me. Nurturing children is one of our priorities.”
Counts says, that sentiment is “very true today.”