By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Sunday will be an especially busy day at Salado Church of Christ, as the congregation will celebrate its 150th anniversary.
The theme will be 'Heritage of Faith,' and Pastor Joe Keyes says that's most appropriate.
'We wouldn't have got this far without faith,' Keyes said. 'It got us this far, and we're still here and growing.'
Planning to serve as host for Sunday's festivities, Keyes said the day is sure to be a joyous occasion.
'It'll be a homecoming,' Keyes said. 'For all members, past and present, to come together, celebrate and share memories.' Ben Lazcano, the church's youth minister, has put together a video for the occasion. It features several oral histories and the favorite memories and stories of the congregation members. Like the service theme, it's titled 'Heritage of Faith.'
'It's a real informative film,' Keyes said. 'It's got a bunch of interviews from various people that tell the history of the church.'
And faith, Lazcano added, is the key word that describes the heart of the film.
'While it's easy for the church to take credit for being around this long, all credit is due to God and his plan for this body of Christ,' Lacano said.
Special guests at Sunday's program will include James LeFan and Mike Stirman, both of Temple. LeFan, a former minister of Salado Church of Christ, will give the celebratory anniversary sermon. And Stirman, from Western Hills Church of Christ in Temple, will lead the special music.
Communion meditation will be led by James Haney, the Salado Church's office administrator and former minister. Charles Allen, local artist and craftsman, was chairman of the congregation's Sesquicentennial Committee.
'Our history is an interesting one,' Keyes said. 'It all started with church meetings in a brush arbor.'
That brush arbor was on the north bank of Salado Creek at the site of Salado Baptist Church. That first congregation that met on March 10, 1859, amounted to about 40 people. A Texas Historical Marker commemorating the story was erected in 1989 at Salado Church of Christ.
'Today, church attendance averages at about 160 people on Sundays,' Keyes said.
Dr. Carrol Kendrick was the leader of the fledgling Salado Church of Christ. He was a physician, frontier preacher, and educator. He suggested the church be formed a few years after the Salado post office opened in 1852. He's recorded as saying Salado was a prime place to build because of its 'abundance of wood, water, wild game and scenic beauty.'
So the Salado Church of Christ called the brush arbor its home. And every month, the early congregation would go to the Salado College Chapel for a non-denominational session of Sunday school.
'The Church of Christ, Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians would all meet together,' Keyes said.
The first permanent building for the Salado Church of Christ wasn't erected until 1875. Built with lumber furnished by early pastor William K. Hamblen, the building was located on North Main Street.
A church bell was placed in the church at that time, and it hung in the steeple until the building burned in 1908. The church rebuilt at the same location and added additional space for classrooms, and in 1943, it remodeled again.
Salado Church of Christ met there until 1961 when the brick building now serving as Village of Salado Municipal Building was constructed. The current church building on Stagecoach Road was constructed in 1988 and remodeled and enlarged in 2006. Salvaged from the 1908 fire, the old church bell hangs in the belfry.
A large activity building known as the Church of Christ Activity Center was built behind the church building just across Church Street in 2004.
'The whole town uses the activity center,' Keyes said. 'We're here to serve however we can.'
Even though its history is full and ripe, Keyes said the future of Salado Church of Christ is brighter.
'We can only continue the good that's begun,' Keyes said. 'We support several mission programs here and abroad, and youth and adult programs are strong.'