Fount of Every Blessing Ebenezer Baptist Church 1836-1986
(Click on image for enlargement) Compiled by Bob Kemp * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Acknowledgments Thanks are extended to everyone who contributed information or pictures used in the preparation of the church history. Special acknowledgment is given to Mrs. Ida Puryear, Church Historian, and Mrs. Grayson Johnson, Church Clerk, for their generous help and support for the project. Great appreciation is also due Mr. E. T. Blackwell, Concord Association Historian, without whose work the earliest history of the church would have been unobtainable. March 16, 1986 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The History of Ebenezer Baptist Church "Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.'" (1Sam.VII,v.12) That stone was erected by Samuel in recognition of divine aid in his battle against the Philistines. In the same way, Ebenezer Church has served for 150 years as a symbol of God's continuous, loving interventions in the lives of men. In October 1804, churches from the present areas of Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Brunswick, Greensville, and Dinwiddie counties met at Ebenezer Meeting House to form the Meherrin Baptist Association. It is likely that there was an organized church holding meetings in the building at that time. The original church was described as "a frame building with pulpit in the front between two entrance doors facing the back, so arranged that a person entering would either have to take a front seat or walk to the back, and when latecomers arrived, the ladies did not have to crane their necks turning around to see who they were." Little history of the church is known from the years 1806-1836; however, it is known that the building was standing on land given by the Edmundsons and was further back from the road than is the present building. In 1833, the Meherrin Association was split between the "missionary Baptists," the Anti-mission" element, and the "Reformers." This split let to the organizing of the Concord Association, and in July of 1836 the new Association received a "petitionary letter, from a newly constituted church, called Union." The church, which met at Ebenezer Meeting house, was unanimously received into the Association. The twenty-two member church was let by Elder J.B. Smith, and the delegates listed for the 1836 Convention were Willis Crute, James Connelly, and Boswell Crute. It was 1838 before Union Church again reported to the Association, and their pastor C.F. Burnley. Obviously, the church was struggling, as indicated by their church letter: "As we are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, we are ourselves under obligation to be more punctual for the future, as well as to make acknowledgments for the past. We have the labors of our faithful and beloved brother Burnley, but for the present are in a cold and lifeless condition. We trust, however, that we are in unity and love among ourselves." The church membership has increased to forty-four by 1840, when we find the first listing of the deacons of the church, namely James Connelly and Willis Crute. The church clerk was Joseph H. Lett, who continues in that position until 1880, but the church had lost the leadership of C.F. Burnley. New names appearing as church delegated were Joseph Scott and Thomas Williamson. ===2 With a decreased membership of thirty-eight, the church found itself in financial difficulties in 1842. Elder William H. Maddox was working three churches - Cut Banks, Malones, and Union - "on the faith of the churches, and our Association, in case of a failure on the part of any of the churches." Union church requested aid from the Association for support of the minister and received a $21.62 1/2 collection. In a statement to the Association, Union reported, "They have been living without the gospel for two years, and have nothing of interest to communicate. They are at peace among themselves, are a feeble body . . . They hold with every institution of benevolence in the world, that has for its object the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom." Again in 1843 the church requested financial aid from the Association and was advised "to appoint someone to apply to the several churches for the aid solicited." New deacons listed by this time were J.H. Lett and S.D. Rolfe. In 1845 and 1846 the church listed no pastors; however, the membership had increased to 103. S.A. Creath was the next pastor at Union, serving from 1847 to 1851. Membership fluctuated greatly during this period, ranging from 128 members to 96. In 1848 Union Church hosted the seventeenth annual session of the Concord Baptist Association, and in 1849 Union Church became known as Ebenezer Church. In 1848, the last year that the associational minutes listed the church deacons, Ebenezer had four: J. Connelly, J.H. Lett, G. Holmes, and S.D. Rolfe. After being without a pastor for 1852 and 1853, Ebenezer gained the services of Rev. A.F. Davidson, who continues to serve the church for thirty years. The church suffered a declining membership during the first years of Davidson's leadership, dropping to seventy-nine members, but then its growth began one more and climbed to 134 members in 1869. Ebenezer's first Sunday School was reported in 1860, and the first numerical report, given in 1867, showed ten officers and teachers and thirty- seven students. As did all churches, Ebenezer suffered during the years of the Civil War. In 1864 the Association Convention had to change its meeting site "owing to the interruption occasioned by the proximity of the Federal army," and that same year the executive committee suggested to the churches that "at least one-half of the pastor's salary be paid in provisions." The Civil War brought other changes to the church. For example, in 1869 Rev. Davidson reported to the Association that with the assistance of Philip Parker, a colored minister, he had organized a colored church at Ebenezer, thereby removing sixty of sixty-two black members from the church roll. It is most probably that the two remaining members were a sexton and his wife. In 1874 Ebenezer served as the host church for the Concord Association Annual Convention. Few records other than statistical data are available for this time period, but in 1879 Ebenezer reported that they had no Sunday School. This report was repeated in 1881, 1882, and 1884. Obviously, the church was having great difficulty maintaining an organized Sunday program other than preaching. The church was without a pastor during 1884 and 1885, and membership had dropped from 113 to 87 when Rev. W.P. Gray came in 1886. Brother Gray was apparently a hard worker, as demonstrated by the fact that in his first year, he enlarged the membership to 141. Rev. Gray served the church two different times the next five years, apparently through some very troubled times. At the Association's convention in 1888, Mr. Z.W. Curtis of Ebenezer reported that the church had no pastor and "was in such a condition as to make it impossible to make an intelligent letter to the Association, owing to divisions and withdrawals from membership." Although there is no evidence of what caused the turmoil, membership records show a one-year decrease of 101 members, from 155 to 54. In spite of the return of Rev.Gray, membership continued to dwindle to a low of twenty-one before Rev. J.E. Powell took over leadership of the church in 1891. Perhaps the church's survival was due in great part to the strength of its early members. An 1889 "Tribute of Love" to Capt. Dennis R. Fielder stated, "Brother Fielder was a very active and useful Christian, long a member of Ebenezer Church . .. his ripened experience and the influence of his pure and noble example was enjoyed and blessed to the good of many." In spite of what looked like a dying church, Rev. Powell took Ebenezer and began to pull it back toward life. Church growth was slow for five years, but in 1898 membership jumped from forty-six to eighty-three. In an 1899 exchange deed between James and Florence Edmonson and Ebenezer trustees J.E. Powell, L.T. Gwaltney, H.B. Dunn, and W.J. Lett, we find the exchange of "a certain piece of land . . . upon the old church Ebenezer was located and which has been taken down and removed" for "the same amount of land upon which the new church Ebenezer is located and in use." It is generally believed that the present church contains some of the materials from that original building and that the moving of the church was for the purpose of getting close to the road. The year 1901 saw the beginning of a W.M.U. organization at Ebenezer, led by Mrs. Jennie Powell, the pastor's wife. In 1906 the church realized the need for additional land and purchased two acres from James and Florence Edmonson for $5.00. This land was used primarily for a church cemetery. An early cemetery containing only unmarked stones is located directly behind the present church. In 1907 the Southern Baptist Convention began the Layman's Missionary Movement, asking each Baptist man to give one tenth of his income to support mission work. Each church was asked to appoint a committee to head up the movement; at Ebenezer the appointed leaders were C.R. Dunn, Paul Tunstall, and John Curtis. Within four years of setting up the new cemetery, the church began to experience problems. In 1910 Mr. Z.T. Willard wanted to buy a cemetery plot for his son for the sum of $1.00. The church refunded his money, saying "the church don't object to his son's grave, but church can't sell burying ground that was bought for the members of the church." This incident prompted the creation of the first cemetery committee, L.T. Gwaltney, J.C. Gill, and C.R. Dunn. In spite of a growing membership, the church reported that it had no W.M.U. for the years 1911 through 1915. Throughout the years, Ebenezer records indicate that church finances have been a problem, both within the church and for mission work. In 1913 Rev. Powell appointed a committee of two to collect funds monthly for associational boards. The first collection netted $12.60. Then in 1914, the pastor appointed a committee of three to assist the deacons "in looking after the finances of the church." In 1915, apparently to aid its finances, the church voted to sell the old organ and place the money in the Williams and Goode Bank in Boydton. There is no record of the amount received for the organ or for what the money was used. According to Association records, Ebenezer sent delegates to the W.M.U. Convention for the first time in 1916. he listed delegates were Mrs. J.E. Powell and Miss Virginia Tunstall. In that same year the church seemed to become more concerned about its membership. After Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Harris were dropped from the church roll, they requested a letter of dismissal. As a result of this request, the church voted to appoint a committee on discipline "to look after the delinquent members and to investigate charges against members and report to the church." Furthermore, inactive members were requested to "appear at next meeting rendering . . . excuse for not attending church and showing some interest in the work of the church. In 1917 the Association responded to a growing church problem which still exists today. In summing up the "Conditions of the Churches" as reported in the church letters, the Association's committee said that "a great need is to have more members to talk inside the church and fewer talkers outside the church." Obviously, the churches were suffering from outside criticisms of their work and, perhaps, their members. Finances and church growth again dominated church affairs beginning in 1919. In that year the church voted that "pastor in charge pay none of his own salary." also in the same year the church reported eight persons received for baptism following a "protracted meeting." The fact that this information appeared in the church minutes indicates the importance it played to the church members. In 1920 as a result of weak giving, Brother S.A. Moseley was appointed by the church "to apportion each member that had not paid anything to pastor's salary what he thought they were able to pay." The 1921 W.M.U. Association report indicated that Sunbeams were doing more than W.M.U. at Ebenezer. Evidently, however, the organizations did not last since the 1926 associational report recorded the beginning of Ebenezer G.A. and Sunbeam groups. @@@5 The year 1921 also saw fourteen new members received into the church as a "visible result" of a series of meeting conducted by brother Walton. In 1922 the church once again appointed a committee to investigate the lack of attendance, apparently a major problem since it was brought up at a business meeting. Early members of Ebenezer also show up in other churches through the years. In 1923 Samuel E. Lett was recognized as an associational delegate from Tabernacle. It was noted that Mr. Lett, forty-eight years earlier in 1875, had been a delegate from Ebenezer. It seems likely that the 1888 "exodus" from Ebenezer spread early members throughout other churches in the Association. Whatever the case might have been, Ebenezer was once again growing. In 1923 thirteen new members were received by baptism following a week-long revival. These members increased the roll to 116 members, the highest number since 1888. Rev J.E. Powell proved his humanity in 1924. According to the associational minutes for that year "J.E. Powell,, pastor of Ebenezer Church, read a history of that church before the Association, comprising twenty or more typed pages. The Association voted to adopt that part of his report pertaining to the history of Ebenezer Church and print it in associational minutes. Brother Powell refused to deliver material to clerk unless it was printed in full; therefore, history was omitted from minutes." In the following years the history disappeared and has never since been located. In an attempt to save some money, the church dismissed its long-time sexton, Uncle Ben Holmes, in 1927 and members agreed to perform his duties. Later records indicate, however, that another sexton was hired in 1930, following Ben Holmes' death. Brother Emmet Reese was selected in 1927 as a deacon to replace L.T. Gwaltney, who moved his membership to another church. Also in 1927, the church felt the need for additional cemetery land. Therefore, they purchased land from J.W. and Emma Farrar for the price of $1.00. This simply indicates once again the generosity that has been shown to the church throughout the years. Ebenezer suffered a major tragedy in 1928 with the death of Rev. J.E. Powell. This man had taken a struggling, nearly dead church and had revived it into a strong arm of Christian service. In a service of remembrance on Mother's Day 1948, Mr. Powell was described in the following words: ". . . he elected to stay with a labor among people whose every sorrow was his to share and every joy to bless . . . no man had to guess where he stood . . . he turned neither to the left or right but calmly and nobly stood until the end." Following Mr. Powell's death, the church sent a committee to Wakefield, North Carolina to see if Rev. Raleigh Sherron would supply for the church. Rev. Sherron filled the unexpired year and continued to lead the church until 1937. In 1929 Ebenezer reported no W.M.U., perhaps due to the lack of leadership previously provided by Mrs. Powell and due to a lack of funds for keeping the organization operating. It was 1934 before the organization was reestablished in the church, under the presidency of Miss Virginia Tunstall. For the first time in its recorded history, Ebenezer did not hold a revival in 1929, perhaps again due to the financial instability of the country and the lack of a resident pastor in the church. The 1930 records reflect the financial condition of the entire country. Fifty dollars which had been left to the church by Sister Owen was loaned to Rev. Sherron to be applied to his salary if the church was unable to meet that obligation. Records also indicate that the church struggled to raise $1.25 to buy a new water bucket. When it was suggested that the pulpit chairs be refurbished, each member was asked to give one dollar or a ham to pay for the work. The Depression had also affected church attendance, and in September of 1930, Sister D.H. Bowers was asked to write to members who had not been to church in the last six months. In November of 1930, the church was still $92.00 short on the preacher's salary, and a committee of three women was appointed to help in raising money for the salary. At the same time, Brother Sherron was asked to write Mr. M.B. Jones concerning the Cooperative Program. The church was financially unable to pledge a certain amount to the program but promised to give "as liberally as they saw fit." In spite of its poor finances, however, the church proved its concern for others when, in December 1930, it collected $7.23 for one of its less fortunate members. In a 1931 report to Concord Association, Brother J.E. Reese reported that Ebenezer "hoped to make a better showing in the future as they had also been very active during the year in helping the needy in their community and for that reason were not able to do more (for the Association) during the past year." By 1933 finances had improved, and when the church was asked to accept a ten dollar assessment for the Cooperative Program, the church not only accepted the assessment but members immediately pledged $7.50 of the amount. Following its reorganization in 1934, the W.M.U. became an active and important force at Ebenezer. In 1936, the organization received a pennant of recognition for having every resident member give to missions. For the first six months of 1938, following the resignation of Rev. Sherron, Mr. Crayne of Lunenburg County supplied for the church. After Mr. Crayne left, Rev. C.L. Taylor accepted the call of Ebenezer and continued to serve until the end of 1942. Rev. Taylor offered his resignation with the condition that the church appoint a pulpit committee to study the advisability of going on a field. Rev W.W. Glass was recommended to the church as its pastor in October 1942. Rev. Glass accepted the call, and Ebenezer became a part of a four-church field with Mt. Horeb, Union Level, and Sanford Memorial. Rev. Glass served the churches until 1945. Evidently the church found itself in financial difficulty again in 1944 when it agreed to sign for aid from the Baptist Board. In 1945 Grayson Johnson was elected clerk of Ebenezer and has faithfully filled that position to the present time. [note: 1986 date of article] Following the resignation of Mr. Glass in 1945, the church voted to stay on the field with the other three churches; however, in 1946 the field changed to a three-church situation with Mt. Horeb and Concord. During the two-year period of 1947-48, Rev. Jack Taylor, a Methodist pastor, supplied in order to keep the church from having to close its doors. Also in 1946, the trustees were directed to check into getting lights in the church. In September of 1947, Ebenezer finally found a pastor, Rev. E.C. Tull, who served the church until December 1955. A parsonage committee, composed of Roland Puryear, Sam Davis and Willie Carter, was formed in 1947, R.F. Johnson was later added to the committee. In 1947 list of deacons included Emmet Reese, Paul Tunstall, and Lennie Whittemore, Roland Puryear and Franklin Johnson were ordained the following year. October 1948 was the date of the Home Dedication Service for the new parsonage constructed by Ebenezer, Mt. Horeb, and Concord. Ebenezer's W.M.U. again started to shine as for four consecutive years, 1950-1953, the organization was recognized for having 100 percent of its members reading mission study books. The year 1951 appears to have been a prosperous year for the church. The old rug was removed from the sanctuary, and a fund was begun to install new carpeting. Mr. and Mrs. Dick Dunn donated fifty dollars with which to start the fund. Also in that year, the trustees and deacons were authorized to secure one acre of land to add to the cemetery; however, no adjoining land was available at that time. A church building project was also undertaken in May of 1951 as Roland Puryear requested that "all men meet at church .. . Saturday morning in order to cut logs for the Sunday School rooms." The year 1952 was a year of change and growth as Alma Whittemore succeeded Sarah Elliott as W.M.U. president, and the church voted to install a furnace system. Mr. D.M. Stovall was also ordained as a deacon during that year. The Sunday School rooms, begun in 1951, were dedicated in June of 1953. Demonstrating its concern for its own members, the church set up a Christian Education fund in 1954 for Ann Davis, who was studying for full-time Christian service. That same year the church also voted to have the floor and pulpit "fixed over." In a subsequent meeting the following year, it was decided to replace the pulpit rather than to refurbish the old one. Ebenezer was again without a pastor for the end of 1955 and early 1956. Then in May of that year, Rev Russell Hunt accepted the church's call and served until December 1958, when Mt. Horeb and Ebenezer for a two-church field. Ebenezer also lost a deacon, Lin Puryear in 1955, and the church was presented with a memorial vase in honor of that faithful servant. In 1956 Ann Puryear, another long-time member of Ebenezer, was added as a recipient of the Christian Education Fund. That same year the church voted to send a letter to the University of Richmond "recommending Anne Davis for full- time Christian Service." Alma Whittemore was succeeded as W.M.U. president by Gladys Cliborne in 1956. Mrs. Cliborne has continued in that position until the present time. The year 1957 was a year of growth as the church ordained two new deacons, Walter Carter and R.D. Cliborne, and again authorized the trustees, J.E. Reese, R.F. Johnson, and Otis Jordan, to purchase additional cemetery land. In 1958 there were some major changes in the church. The W.M.U. attained an Advanced rating, its first such honor. Also in July the church leaned that Mt. Horeb and Concord would be going on a two-church field when suitable. Then in September, the church learned that as of January 1, 1959, they would be without a pastor as Rev. Hunt chose to stay with the two-church field. As a result of Rev. Hunt's decision, Mr. Bill Tomlinson, a University of Richmond student, supplied in December of 1958 and was then called by the church as its pastor. The call was accepted, and Rev. Tomlinson served until March of 1966. Solomon Loyd was ordained as a deacon in 1959, and the W.M.U. again achieved an Advanced rating, which it maintained through 1962. Also in 1959 the church recorded its largest membership, 176 members. The year 1960 was a year of church additions. New pulpit chairs and a new pulpit were given in memory of Rev. J.E. Powell by his sons, Thomas Gray and Stuart. Mr. W.H. Elliott was ordained as a deacon in that year and was elected chairman of a committee to write a church constitution. Indicating a concern for new members, the board of deacons recommended that "any persons desiring church membership will be received under the watchcare of the church and will be enrolled in a new member class which will meet on the first and third Sundays of each month during the Sunday School hour and will be taught by a qualified person. Afterwards, the candidate will be presented to the church for full membership." Ebenezer deacons, as listed in the 1960 church minutes were R.D. Cliborne, L.I. Whittemore, R.F. Johnson, Solomon Loyd, W.G. Warter, R.P. Puryear, and W.H. Elliott. ========9 Although there are no church records indicating a church building project going on at the time, it was announced in 1961 that Rev. Dempsey Carwell would conduct the dedication services for the new Sunday School room. Two major changes occurred in 1962 when the church voted to purchase a new piano and to cut a door from the sanctuary to the Sunday School rooms. In August of 1963, Bill Tomlinson turned in his resignation as pastor of Ebenezer Church. However, in December the pulpit committee recommended to the church that "W.L. Tomlinson be requested to withdraw his resignation and remain as pastor," When Rev. Tomlinson learned that the church unanimously supported the recommendation, he withdrew his resignation. Church organizations were also very active that year. The Vacation Bible School attained an A standard rating; the Training Union won the Efficiency Banner at "M" Night, and Robert Elliott won the Young People's Poster contest in the district Training Union Tournament. The year 1964 saw the continuation of church activities as the Intermediate G.A.'s received an Honor Award and Junior G.A.'s received an Advanced Award. Furthermore, in the Associational Training Union Tournament, Rose Andrews won the Young People's Poster contest and Judy Rucker won the Intermediate Poster contest. Church participation in Training Union grew stronger in 1965 as evidenced by increased wins in the Associational Tournament. Sandra Phillips won the Junior Memory Drill; Davey Bowers, the Young People's Essay, and Mrs. Mildred Lewis, the Adult Poster contest. The church lost one of its deacons, R.F. Johnson, during 1965, and a memorial plaque containing the church covenant was presented to the church. Church leadership again changed hands in 1966 as Rev. Bill Tomlinson submitted his resignation in February in order to serve another church. In May of that year, the pulpit committee recommended Rev. Jack Trent as the new pastor. Rev. Trent accepted the church's call and served until 1967. In May of 1966, the church sent a letter to Riverside Baptist Church in Roanoke (Rev. Trent's home church) asking that church to make the necessary arrangements for the ordination of the new pastor. In October of 1966, the church voted to begin work on the installation of bathrooms in the church building, and one month later the church had installed the bathrooms and dug a well. The G.A.'s also proved themselves in 1966 as they received an Honor rating. Rev Trent resigned, effective March 1967, and that same month the church unanimously passed the pulpit committee's recommendation of calling Rev. Ray McPherson, who assumed his duties at the church in July of 1967. After only one year, Rev. McPherson resigned in order to re-enlist as a Navy Chaplain. At the Homecoming Service in May of 1968, the church dedicated several donations which had given the church a "face lift." New carpeting had been installed in the sanctuary by Rev. and Mrs. McPherson, and the pulpit chairs had been reupholstered by Mrs. McPherson's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dewey Bass. Outside, new sidewalks had been poured and shrubbery had been donated by Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Bowers, Mrs. W.E. Carter, and by Nellie Curtis in memory of Maynard Curtis. In September, following the pastor's resignation, the church voted unanimously to call Rev. Larry James Bennett, who accepted the call and served until June of 1970. The Training Union continued to remain active ad it received the 1968 Efficiency Banner. The church received two new gifts in 1969 when Rev. and Mrs. Bennett gave a scarf for the communion table and a new church Bible was given by the Curtis family in honor of Nellie and Maynard Curtis. The year of 1970 was another year of major change for Ebenezer. In January the pulpit committee was requested to contact Mt. Horeb Church concerning the possibility of becoming a two-church field. In March the church voted to join with Mt. Horeb on a field. In 1970 they lost a long-time deacon, John Emmett Reese, and in September of that year, Rev. Eugene Payne began leadership of the church. A new W.M.U. organization, the Baptist Young Women, began at Ebenezer I 1972, and the G.A.'s received an Advanced award that year. Also the same year, a nursery and the outside security light were added to the church. In 1973, after its first full year of operation, the B.Y.W. received a Merit award. The church also began discussions on painting and wallpapering the sanctuary. In July of 1973 the church was once more without a pastor following the resignation of Rev. Payne. Following Rev. Payne's resignation, Rev. Vernon Tuxbury supplied until a new pastor could be found. In February 1974, Rev. John Small accepted the leadership of the church. The Young Married Class requested permission to raise money to install ceiling tiles in the sanctuary, and in May the new ceiling and wallpaper were installed. The church also began working on getting the stained-glass memorial windows for the sanctuary. A major change occurred in 1974 when the church, under the guidance of Rev. Small, voted to have every-Sunday preaching. The church also suffered a great loss in 1974 with the death of one of its strongest leaders, Deacon W.H. Elliott. In January 1975 Clarence Spake was ordained as a deacon to replace Mr. Elliott. The next three months saw new additions to the church. In February a new pulpit was given in honor of Mr. Elliott; in March the memorial windows were given by various families in the church, and in April a new bookcase was purchased with a donation given by Rev. and Mrs. McPherson. The church was saddened that year, however, by the death of another deacon, Mr. Roland Puryear. The year 1976 saw two new projects begun by the church. The Young Married class instigated the idea of installing air conditioners in the sanctuary, and the church voted to build a new picnic shed and concrete the floor of it. In 1977 Bob Kemp was ordained as a deacon, and the ungraded Acteens received a distinguished rating. Also in that year, the church accepted the resignation of Rev. Small. Rev. Small was followed in 1978 by Rev. Donald Emge, and in December of that year the church conducted its first white-gift Christmas program, which has since become a annual part of the Christmas program. Also in December of 1978, the Young Married class announced its financial readiness to install air conditioning. In January 1979, Ebenezer joined with First Baptist Church of South Hill for a Bible study conducted by former Ebenezer member Anne Davis. The church constitution was revised and updated, including a trial period of using rotating deacons. In preparation for the installation of air conditioners, the church voted to insulate the roof and side walls of the sanctuary. In July 1979, the church faced a problem similar to one seventy years earlier and decided "the cemetery shall be restricted to church members and their immediate households. Any variations shall be handled on an individual basis through a meeting of the deacons and trustees." Following the death of Deacon Lennie Whittemore in 1979, the Board of Deacons recommended that "as a memorial and out of respect to Lennie Whittemore" that his position not be immediately filled. The year 1980 proved to be a very busy year for the church. Ricky Puryear was ordained as a new deacon. Due to decreased participation, the church voted to celebrate Homecoming every three years rather than every year. In February the church learned of Rev. Emge's resignation effective the following month and voted to call Rev. E.H. Puryear to supply until a pastor could be found. Rev. Puryear served until Rev. L. Wayne Carter assumed leadership of the church in November. New sanctuary lights were given in memory of Lennie Whittemore in 1980, and the church again addressed itself to the completion of the picnic shed. When the church received a request to sell the land across the road from the church building, the members voted to sell the land and use the money to complete the shed. The church also voted to amend the constitution to eliminate rotating deacons. Woodmen of the World presented new state and Christian flags and standards to the church. Finally in 1981, five years after its beginning, the picnic shed was completed when the cement floor was poured. Following the example of other churches in the area, in 1982 Ebenezer set up a cemetery upkeep fund to provide for proper maintenance of the ground. Also, Jimmy Carter donated new hymnal covers for the church, and an outdoor bulletin board was given in memory of Melvin Davis. Also, a new door was cut from the sanctuary into the Sunday School rooms and a ramp was installed between the two for easier access. In 1983 the church voted to celebrate its sesquicentennial in 1986. Bob Kemp was elected as chairman of the Sesquicentennial Planning Committee. In 1984, the church voted to complete the kitchen area in the Sunday School rooms. The year 1985 saw three changes in the churches. C.W. Cassada was ordained as a deacon; a new picnic table was donated by Mr. Una Harris, and a new furnace was installed after thirty-three years of service from the old unit. Clearly, the church has seen years of hardship and good fortune. In all times, however, it has sustained and become stronger as a result of its experiences. Through the years many people have entered the doors of the church and found strength and comfort, as well as fellowship, and love. Surely there is a special meaning for Ebenezer church and its members in the second verse of "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." "Here I raise mine Ebenezer Hither by Thy help I'm come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home."