Members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Carlisle are gathering this week for the 136th anniversary celebration of the founding of the church at the corner of Lincoln and West streets in Carlisle.
During Sunday's gathering, the congregation also celebrated the 37th anniversary of the pastorate of the Rev. Dr. William E. Jones Jr., the church's longest-serving pastor.
"We've come a long way, Lord, a mighty long way," the Rev. Dr. Willamae Williams told the crowd that packed the church.
Williams, the visiting worship leader and pastor of Bethany Missionary Baptist Church of Harrisburg, added that "136 years is a long time, a century and then some."
"The hand of God is on these people and on this place and we've been on this train a long long time," Williams continued. "Thank God for the ones who have faith; blessed is this place."
The guest preacher, the Rev. Dr. Alfred E. Smith, pastor of Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church of Harrisburg, spoke of the challenges of the Baptist Church over the years in his message, "The Church in Danger."
Shortly after Jones and his wife, the Rev. Delores E. Jones, came to Shiloh, he completed payment of a $5,000 mortgage that he inherited and organized the church's 100th anniversary celebration.
During his tenure, he has overseen many renovations and additions, as well as the purchase of adjacent properties for office space.
Now the husband-and-wife team is leading Shiloh Missionary Baptist in developing long-range plans for a new church addition. However, their greatest goal is to preach, teach and nurture the membership into a closer relationship with God, Deaconess Ruth E. Hodge told the gathering.
Hodge, who also is church historian, read over the history of the church. Highlights include:
- Shiloh was organized from Primitive Baptist Church in 1868 by the Rev. William Bell, who had gained his freedom during the Civil War. The church was called The North Street Church, and he was pastor until 1876.
- In 1877, the church became a Missionary Baptist Church during the service of the Rev. John Davis, who remained for two years.
- The Rev. Robert C. Young served from 1880-83, and during this time, the Rev. W.A.D. Peck organized the first church school in 1881.
- The Rev. Elias Parker was pastor from 1884-87, followed for short time by the Rev. Andrew "Prophet" Jones, then Brother Elias Thomas.
- In 1887, the church received land at the corner of Lincoln and North West streets and a new church was built.
- In 1888, the Rev. John Philip McCard became pastor and served until his death in 1924. During his tenure, membership began to grow and by the early 1900s the congregation had outgrown the existing building.
- In 1911, Rev. McCard, a skilled brick and stone mason, proposed a new brick structure around the old building to allow worshipping during construction. In 1916 the new brick church was incorporated as the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.
- Pastors during the 20th century included the Rev. H.B. Pope, 1925-28; the Rev. T.L. Jones, 1928-32; the Rev. Abram L. Mackey, 1933-36, and the Rev. B.G. Johnson, 1938-41.
- The Rev. Rhonnie Lloyd Heck, pastor from 1941-50, completed payment of the mortgage for the church during his administration.
- The Rev. William Daniels, pastor from 1951-55, completed vast renovations of the church. During this period Deacon Sidney Spraglin Sr. and his son, Sidney Spraglin Jr., and some of his employees installed the tower bell from the old market house in the church tower. A special dedication service was held on May 4, 1952.
- The Rev. Joseph Houston Haggler Jr. was pastor from 1956 to March 1967. Six months later, the Rev. Dr. Jones came to the congregation and was officially installed as pastor on Feb. 18, 1968.