Church will celebrate its 66th anniversary Community Baptist has been rebuilt twice as congregation grew

November 06, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

The congregants hauled bricks, sawed wood, hammered nails and installed the plumbing and the wiring to hold down the costs as they built Community Baptist Church in Pumphrey in 1929.

This week, the members of the church will have a series of services to celebrate the church's 66th anniversary and honor those who put up the first building in the 5900 block of Belle Grove Road.

That church "wasn't anything fabulous, but it was new," said Carl G. Jackson, 57, chairman of the deacon board who grew up in the church. "It was white, and there was stucco out front."

The church, completed in 1930, has been rebuilt twice to accommodate its growing congregation.

In the past 20 years, the membership has nearly quadrupled from 100 to 375, according to the Rev. Milton N. Lemon, 52, who has been pastor during that time.

Mr. Lemon is the fifth in a line of pastors who have stood in Community Baptist's pulpit over the years.

The services, at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and at 11:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, provide "a time when we acknowledge our struggles and acknowledge what God has done for us," he said.

The church, which draws its members from as far away as Annapolis, has come a long way since the congregation held services in a tent and later a member's house before the original building was completed, Mr. Lemon recalled.

Since then, members say, it has become a pillar in Pumphrey, a predominantly African-American neighborhood west of Ritchie Highway in Brooklyn Park.

They attribute the growth of the church to word of mouth and to members going out to witness in the community.

"Reverend Lemon believes in a ministry of evangelism, as he calls it," said Mr. Jackson. "He doesn't believe members should come and just listen to a sermon, but that they should be active in the activities of the church."

Mr. Lemon started various outreach programs, including youth and adult ministries, and provided role models for youths.

A church must "retain its young," Mr. Jackson said.

"The old people will eventually fade off the scene. And unless we can bring young people into it, the church won't grow," Mr. Jackson said.

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