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Spotsylvania church marks 150 years

October 10, 2009 12:36 am

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The Rev. Herman Ellis served as pastor of Little Mine Road for 26 years. He passed away in 1995. rlchurch1010b.jpg

Little Mine Road Baptist Church's congregation built its sanctuary near Spotsylvania Courthouse in 1974 after years of planning and effort. rlchurch1010c.jpg.jpg

The cornerstone tells a bit of the history of Little Mine Road Baptist Church. rlchurch1010d.jpg.jpg

Lawrence Stanard, born in 1876, began his family's long service to the church.

BY AARON RICHARDSON

BY AARON RICHARDSON

Little Mine Road Baptist Church will celebrate its 150th Jubilee on Oct. 18.

Founded in 1859, Little Mine Road Baptist is recognized as the oldest African-American congregation in Spotsylvania County.

Vanward Stanard has attended the church west of Spotsylvania Courthouse since his birth.

"We've had family members in the church since the beginning," Stanard, 69, said. "My grandfather was a deacon of the church, my father was a deacon of the church, I am a deacon of the church and now my son is a deacon of the church."

Martha Rollins of Spotsylvania, who will turn 88 on Oct. 18, has been a member of the church since 1926, when she was 5.

"We went to the church in a horse and buggy in them days," Rollins said.

She has been an usher at the church since the mid-1970s, and doesn't plan on stopping any time soon.

"When I took this job, I told God I wouldn't take my hand off the plow," she said. "And I'm not going to sit down until God tells me to sit down."

Rollins said the church is a refreshing part of her life each week.

"Sometimes I don't feel like going to church, but I get up and go anyway and when I come back I feel better," she said.

Little Mine Road pastor Carson Jackson said he feels humbled to have the opportunity to lead the congregation.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be chosen by God to lead people with such a rich history," he said.

Jackson accepted the job as pastor of Little Mine Road last year and is dedicated to maintaining the church's reputation.

"My vision so far has been to build on the foundation that has been started," Jackson said.

According to the church's official history, it began as an offshoot of Mine Road Baptist Church, a white church on Mine Road.

In the early days, the congregation worshipped in an old tent. It wasn't until 1877 that the church was able to purchase half an acre to build a permanent sanctuary. The church purchased the original plot for $2.

"The first church was more like a shed or a brush arbor," said church historian Roganna Howard-Rollins, Martha Rollins' daughter-in-law.

The church has come a long way since its inception before the Civil War. Howard-Rollins, who joined the church when she was 12, said she's happy to have been a part of such a rich tradition.

"It's a lot of history we've held onto," she said. "Going through civil rights, going through segregation, then gaining a lot of independence it's all coming back to help the church."

The church went through two buildings before building the current structure in 1974.

Planning for the new sanctuary began in 1965, with a seed fund of only $75.

"I was wondering how they was going to build a new church with only $75," said Stanard, who was the youngest member of the church's planning committee.

Little Mine Road is celebrating its anniversary with a series of worship services. The services will take place in the evenings beginning Sunday, Oct. 18, and running until Tuesday, Oct. 20. Celebrations will include commemorative addresses by former pastors of the church.

Stanard said that the 150th anniversary of the church gives him a sense of pride.

"It makes me feel rewarded for the work that my parents and [ancestors] put into the church," he said.

Mrs. Rollins agreed. "It makes me feel good to know that I have been in the house of the Lord so long," she said.

Aaron Richardson: 540/374-5000, ext. 5617
Email: arichardson@freelancestar.com





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