For almost 150 years, the Horace Baptist Church has been going strong.
“Our faithful worshippers and the people committed to our church contribute to the work that is going on in our congregation and church,” said Pastor Rick Cook, explaining the church has endured many changes over the years but continues to flourish.
To honor that milestone, the congregation is hosting a 144th anniversary as part of the annual homecoming celebration Sunday, Oct. 7, at the rural northern Edgar County church.
The celebration event features Sermon ‘N Songs Ministries, by Mr. and Mrs. Paul (Betty) Hiscock of Monrovia, Ind. The Sunday morning service featuring the couple seeks to bring God’s Word to worshippers with Christ-honoring music at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.
A noon potluck lunch follows the morning worship and guests are welcome to join in the meal and fellowship. An added special service to conclude the daylong celebration is at 1 p.m.
“We invited the public to join us for the special services and a lunch,” Cook said, noting guests are not required to bring a dish for the meal. “Everyone in our area, especially those who have attended Horace Baptist Church in time past, are invited to this great celebration of God’s work for God’s glory.”
Sermon ‘N Songs Ministries was established in 2001 by the Hiscocks. According to Cook, the couple’s unique church service combines a revival meeting, what he called a singspiration, a musical concert and an inspiring hymn-history documentary into one message. In addition to vocal music, trumpet and trombone duets and hand chimes are part of the program.
A special feature of what the couple does is the use of a large auditorium screen to present inspiring stories accompanied by several timeless hymns and gospel songs.
The Sermon ‘N Songs Ministries’ website claims, “Congregations will gain greater understanding of biblical truths, and sing the hymns with renewed freshness.” The ministry has taken the Hiscocks to independent fundamental Baptist churches in several states and foreign mission fields.
“This celebration is a good experience with people joining us. It is always a blessing,” said Cook.
Horace Baptist Church has a rich history. It was organized in November 1874 hosting Sunday School at a rural site approximately five miles north of the current location. The Tucker and Johnson families donated land to the church in the late 1870s and part of the current building was erected. Cook noted the church has grown through the years with several additions to the original structure.
The pastor who served the church the longest was Charlie Sturgell, who immediately preceded Cook. Sturgell served for 25 years and Cook is the second longest, having served for 12 years.
The church currently has approximately 40 members.
“Our congregation continues to get older but we are trying several tactics to reach the next generation,” Cook said.
One such effort is sponsoring the Good News Club at Wenz School. This year the after school program serves 14 to 17 students on Monday nights, and each week a volunteer leader presents a Bible lesson designed by Child Evangelism Fellowship.
The action-packed time includes a snack, a mission story and review games or other activities focused on the week’s specific theme.
Cook believes God will continue to provide for the ever-changing house of worship needs into the future.
“We trust the Lord and know he is in control of all things,” said Cook. “We know he will take care of our church and we trust in the Lord to continue to renew our church.”
Cook added struggling to keep the doors open is an issue all small rural congregations face.
“We honestly have those concerns,” he said. “We believe God’s role is that he is the one keeping it (the church) going.”