Church to celebrate 100th anniversary with full slate of festivities

Published 4:17 pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

Indian Grave Baptist Church in Billingsley has a full day of festivities planned to celebrate its 100th anniversary Sunday.

Church member Evelyn Cook said the service would start at 10:30 a.m. at the church, located at 1343 Autauga County Road 24 in Billingsley.

Indian Grave Baptist Church in Billingsley opened was chartered in 1913 and will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sunday.

Indian Grave Baptist Church in Billingsley opened was chartered in 1913 and will celebrate its 100th anniversary on Sunday.

“We’re just excited that the Lord has let us minister in the community for 100 years,” said Cook, who is organizing the celebration. “We’re praying the next 100 will be just as good.”

Though none of the charter members from 1913 are still alive (the last, Cleve Billingsley, passed away in 1995 at the age of 103), Sunday’s service will include recognition of several of the charter members’ families, plus former pastors.

Also, 90-year-old Zelma Keen will be recognized as the oldest continuous member (her family moved to the community when she was 5), and 96-year-old Lewis Emfinger will be recognized as the oldest member.

“We have a long heritage–a very rich heritage,” Cook said.

A time capsule that was buried on the church’s 75th anniversary will be opened Sunday, and another time capsule will be buried Sunday.

Cook said the new capsule would contain a hymnal page on which “Amazing Grace” is printed and a bulletin from Sunday’s program, among other items.

A representative from the Baptist Historical Commission will present the church with a plaque commemorating the milestone, and an American flag that flew over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. will be a gift from U.S. Rep. Martha Roby.

Indian Grave Baptist Church originally met in a schoolhouse about a quarter of a mile away from where the current structure stands.

A church building was constructed a few months later, and then many years later the wooden church was remodeled to the current facility.

Indian Grave has a strong history of both fundraising and missions. Cook said church members once took pigs, raised them, sold them and then donated the money to the church. A community cotton patch was also once tended by members with proceeds benefitting the church.

The fundraisers have supported many missions over the years, including a carpentry mission trip that has been organized for more than 30 years. Participants help build churches for congregations across the country. Cook said the mission has traveled as far away as Oklahoma and as close as Clanton, for work on the children’s ranch Raleigh’s Place.

Perhaps the most recognizable thing about Indian Grave Baptist Church, though, is its name.

“People ask if there are really Indian graves,” Cook said. “The older people can remember when there were, but when the paved road came through…they’re not there any longer.”