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North Brook Baptist Church celebrates century of worship

Staff Writer

North Brook Baptist Church is set to recount a century’s worth of memories this Sunday for its 100th anniversary celebration.
The mission-minded church, built between 1913 and 1918, was originally a small wooden structure with a tin roof and only eight wooden steps out front. The facility had no electricity and relied on a pot-bellied stove for heat, and without pews, forced church members to sit on wooden blocks sawed from logs, church officials said.
Local carpenter and founding member, William Lackey, purchased the property for a mere $35 after he felt the need to have a Baptist church in the area. Formerly a Methodist, Lackey switched denominations after rethinking his views on baptism. Wishing to be baptized through water immersion rather than sprinkling, he asked Hull’s Grove Reverend B. F. Newton to baptize him. Soon after, Lackey began work on the construction of North Brook Baptist Church.
Prior to starting the church, Lackey held “Brush Arbor” prayer meetings in the area. The meetings consisted of residents gathering under a grove of trees to pray, according to church history.
The church wasn’t completed the year it opened its doors in March 1913. However, Newton preached from the pulpit on Revelation chapter six, and the congregation joined in singing the hymn entitled “There is a Bright and Golden Light,” current church officials said.
Because for several decades services were only held monthly at the church, Newton continued to preach off-and-on at Hull’s Grove Baptist Church.
Founding members, who were also among the first church members baptized, included Iler Goins, Vard McGinnis and Carrie Lackey. The members were immersed in a creek behind Pate Lackey’s home. Lackey served as the church’s first bell ringer.
Additional founding members included last names Dellinger and Self, which are still common names in the area today.
Several of their descendants continue to carry on their families’ tradition at North Brook Baptist including seven of William Lackey’s great-great grandchildren and five of his great-great-great grandchildren.
In 1952, church officials decided to build a parsonage onsite for then-pastor Rev. Coy Dellinger, who served more than 28 years at North Brook Baptist. More than a decade later, the church group The Brotherhood, known today as the Baptist Men, purchased property for a fellowship hall for $100. Church members were credited with constructing a majority of the facility, officials said.
Thirty years after the parsonage was built, a new church building was established for half a million dollars followed by the erection of a new, second fellowship hall on the church’s site in 2007.
Over the years, membership at North Brook Baptist has grown significantly from 160 members in the 1960s to nearly 450 members today. Current pastor, Rev. William Ray Pennell, has served the church for the last 15 of his nearly 30-year career but said he has plans to retire at the end of the month. Pennell is one of nearly 20 men who’ve preached at the church since the early 1900s. Surviving preachers and all surviving former members have been invited to join in on Sunday’s anniversary service.
According to a manual written by North Brook’s church historian, the church’s original house of worship was constructed with “guts, sweat and tears” — a testament to founding members’ perseverance and dedication to the Christian faith.

Image courtesy of Tennille Mullery / Special to LTN

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