BY O.J. EARLY
Nestled among the rolling hills of the Nolachuckey community is Meadow Creek Presbyterian Church (P.C.A.) -- serving no doubt as a bedrock of the area since its founding in 1812.
The church, located at 4850 West Allens Bridge Road, commemorated its 200-year anniversary last weekend, joining only a handful of churches in Greene County to reach the landmark date.
Members of Meadow Creek celebrated with a combination of special services and times of fellowship.
At the heart of the services, it seemed, were not only the church's members, past and present, and their commitment to God, but a sense of God's commitment to the church.
"I think the first thing, and really the center of what I hope to have as our focus this weekend, is God's faithfulness," said the Rev. Jeff Neikirk, Meadow Creek's pastor since 2008.
"Without God being at the center of this and without God's faithfulness, the church wouldn't have survived," he said.
To commemorate the anniversary, the church held three days of events, beginning on Friday and ending Sunday.
On Friday evening, a video was shown, titled "Find Us Faithful," chronicling the birth of the church up to the present, with pictures, music and text that explained important aspects of the church's long history. The video brought both tears and laughter to those present.
Two former pastors, the Rev. Larry Ball and the Rev. Jim Richter, and their wives were on hand to share stories and offer encouragement to those present on Friday.
On Saturday, a small museum, filled with photos and artifacts of the church's past, was on display on the first floor of the church.
A dinner, along with a dramatic presentation entitled "Precious Memories," concluded Saturday's events.
TREE IS DEDICATED
On Sunday, a worship service, a tree dedication in the churchyard, and dinner on the ground wound up the weekend's events.
For church member Bernice Ramsey, 90, the weekend was a time to reflect and remember and also to celebrate and commemorate the church's past.
"I've been in the church all my life" said Ramsey, who remembers when the current church building was constructed in 1929.
"I can kinda remember that first service," she said, recalling the first-ever service held in the current church building.
Ramsey, who would have been seven at the time, said that a large crowd attended the service, and the speaker preached a sermon from I Corinthians.
God's goodness and faithfulness to the church, combined with the faithfulness of a long line of church members, have allowed the church to last as long as it has, said Ramsey, the oldest church member who is still able to actively attend services at Meadow Creek.
Alice Love, a member of Meadow Creek since 1957, said one key element of the church's longevity is the people themselves. She described many of the members as having a "close-knit family love for one another."
"There is a lot of love and good fellowship in the church, and we've had a lot of good preachers," said Love, whose late husband, Charles Love, was a lifelong member of Meadow Creek Presbyterian.
But for both members, and no doubt others, it has been God who has been the foundation for the church's long history.
"In Christ there is a glue that holds everything together, and the thing the church has never lost sight of, I think, in its 200 years is the glue that's Jesus Christ," Neikirk said.
"I tell our people that it is probably more accurate to say that He is holding on to us rather than us holding on to Him."