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Church readies centennial celebration

In a time before electricity, cars, telephones or radios, the story of a church began.
It started at the old signboard school house at Old Plank and Vesuvius Furnace roads. It was a mission started by the Rev. Phillip W. Bangle, pastor of Mountain View Church, to hold a summer revival and preach two Sunday afternoons each month.
It proved successful.
One hundred years later, Amity Baptist Church is celebrating its history.
The church first started on land not very far away from the old signboard school house. Every male member who could work helped with the construction.
By August 1905, the church opened and Bangle continued as pastor.
Since that time, Amity Baptist has been built two other times. Once was in 1946 and the second time in 1970 when a cement block church was built.
David Henley, organist, has been there for over 50 years.
On June 12, he received a plaque for 50 years of dedicated service and also celebrated his 64th birthday.
“It’s been an enjoyable time,” he said. “I have always liked music.”
Henley started taking music at age 9 at Rock Springs School in Denver. He learned to play the piano and taught himself to play the organ.
Through the years, Henley watched many things change at the church, from the lack of electricity to the modernization of the organ.
Originally, he had to pump the organ with his feet until it became electric — with the help of a vacuum cleaner stationed in one of the classrooms in the basement of the church. The Rev. Haskell L. Sides, who became pastor in 1941, helped construct the vacuum cleaner organ.
“The electric wires and vacuum hose ran to the organ,” Henley said. “With a switch that was on the pump organ, it would turn the vacuum on downstairs.”
The vacuum cleaner blowing the air made the organ electric.
Henley said you could not hear the vacuum running since it was in the basement.
A resident of Lincolnton, Henley said he doesn’t mind driving to Amity Church Road every Sunday to play the organ. And he doesn’t have any plans to stop playing either.
At the age of 14, he remembers the 50th anniversary of the church. He finds it hard to believe that another 50 years have past.
Henley has met a lot of church friends and participated in many funerals and weddings.
“When you talk about the 100th anniversary, it seems so far, but time goes by fast and it’s here,” Henley said.
This Sunday for its homecoming, church members and the community will come together to tell the stories of the past and reminisce.
Contents of a time capsule from 1955 will be shared including an audio tape from the 1955 homecoming services, history on the church, and an Aug. 18, 1955 edition from a predecessor of the Lincoln Times-News on the church’s 50th anniversary.
A 2005 time capsule will also be put together to be opened in another 50 years.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Larry Little, can hardly believe the church is 100 years old.
“Time passes so quickly,” Little said, who has been pastor since 1989.
He expects a large crowd for the celebration.
CDs will also be available of the audio tape.

Want to Go?
The church is located at 881 Amity Church Road. Below are times and events:

Sunday, Aug. 21, Homecoming Sunday
9:45 a.m.: Sunday school
11 a.m.: Worship service with the Rev. Eric Reel, who grew up at the church
12:30 p.m.: Covered dish dinner in the church fellowship hut
1:45 p.m.: Centennial anniversary service, sharing of the 1955 time capsule and preparation of the 2005 time capsule
by Amy Wadsworth

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