‘Celebration of who we are’

After Monday, Feb. 10, it was official, First Baptist Church is 125 years old.

Saturday, Feb. 8, however, was the day of celebration.

Beginning in the morning, the church held a ceremony for its members, past and present entitled “Praising God For What He Has Done!” The ceremony featured reflections from former pastors, remembrances of a choir director and a deacon and more. It was full of music and laughter and, of course, prayers and blessings.

The ceremony began with a rendition of “How Great Thou Art” featuring Johnny Barrett  on the organ and JoAnna Pruitt on the piano. Later in the program, those in attendance would learn, although most were probably already aware, that Pruitt is actually only the third pianist in First Baptist Church’s history, and its most tenured.

Pastor Cullen Clark welcomed all who were able to attend the morning’s celebration and thanked those who had worked hard to put the morning and afternoon programs together.

“A lot of people put a lot of work into today,” he said. “I am not one of them. I will not take any credit.”

Clark also thanked the church for welcoming him and his family in what is his first full-time position as a pastor, crediting the church for making the family feel like they have been around for years.

Clark, the current pastor, was joined throughout the program by former pastors Glen Howie, Alan Knuckles and Ernie Toepfer. The trio each gave their brief thoughts, reflecting on their time as pastor at First Baptist church.

The celebration also included recorded music from former choir director Winston Walker. Walker served in the position two separate times, from 1952 to 1957 and from 1960 to 1961. The celebration also featured deacon and prayer warrior Herb Langefeld’s recording of “Silent Night” in German. Both were part of tributes to the two that have passed away.

The music of the morning also came from the church’s worship choir, Marty and Phil Odom, Hugh Wallis, Rose Marie Toepfer, The Way Singers and a men’s trio.

The ceremony also featured special recognitions by and to the church. Crowley Mayor Greg Jones recognized the church’s celebration on behalf of the city Saturday and Rev. Jeff Cook of the Louisiana Baptist Convention recognized the church’s anniversary.

“To get your mind around how long 125 years is hard,” said Cook. “Think of the number of souls in 125 years that have been impacted by this church.”

First Baptist Church took time to recognize 10 who have been loyal members of the congregation for 60 or more years. They were Sylvia Barousse, Pruitt, Jo-Anne Arnaud, Elaine Simon, Gerry Meche, Barbara Lawson, Ron Lawson, Kathryn Hearn, Rita Parrie and Larry Lawson.

In the afternoon, the church held an “Afternoon of Praise” service.

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