Back in time: Mulberry Baptist reenacts history

Published 12:05 pm Monday, October 8, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

Mulbery Baptist Church in Isabella continued the year-long celebration of the bicentennial of its founding by highlighting aspects of its history during a VIP banquet on Oct. 6.

Several church members were dressed in apparel that was common in 1818 — the year the church officially started.

Event organizer Sherrell White said the congregation likely met for devotionals prior to officially organizing.

“They named it Mulberry because of the creek that was here,” White said.

It was originally called the Mulberry Meeting House.

A replica of the interior of the first log cabin where the congregation met on property owned by the Beard family was front and center during the banquet. Benches created with wood from a local sawmill provided the seating in the historic display.

White rang a loud handbell to call the “service” to order, and the reenactors took their seats.

Pastor Andy Mims delivered a short sermon taken from the historical records and minutes of the church.

The sermon was serious in its emphasis on how Christians should live and the way of salvation.

“The only hope that we have is if godly men and women of character will stand up and hold forth the Gospel,” Mims read.

However, when actors demonstrated how the church in 1818 would have dealt with those who did not uphold the standards of the church, the actors kept it lighthearted. Each person and the deacon who had been assigned to look into the situation came before the church. A public confession was made and forgiveness of the church asked. Two young men had been found drunk from moonshine, while a woman in the church, Sister Ballew, had been found publically “dancing and frolicking around like some school girl.”

“I know that comes as a shock,” Mims said, amidst laughter from the audience. “No one saw it coming.”

Sister Klinner, who was chosen to look into the situation, said Ballew had chosen to repent and stay in the church.

“We are happy about that because she makes great chicken and dressing,” Klinner said.

Throughout the sketch, Mims emphasized that the goal of this process was for the person to repent and be restored to fellowship with the church.

Favorite church songs from the present and the past were played and sung. Some were played on an antique piano that had been polished up just for the event.

The banquet also featured numerous displays highlighting the history of the various ministries of the church.

During the opening prayer for the banquet, Mims thanked God for His “faithfulness to the church” and the opportunity “to celebrate what You have done over the past 200 years.” He also prayed for direction for the future.

“It’s great to look at the past and celebrate what has been done, but Lord we can’t stop there,” Mims said. “We always need to be looking forward to the future.”

Mims recognized White for his work on the project during the banquet. White in turn thanked everyone on his committee.

“I never imagined it would be something this big when we started talking about it in 2013,” Mims said.

He said it would never have been possible without White and his team.

Throughout the planning and the celebrations, Mims, who has been pastor at Mulberry for the past six years, said he has learned several things he had not known about the church.

“This (church) is the cornerstone of Isabella,” Mims said.

Community outreach and partnerships with Isabella high School have long been an emphasis for the church.

White said the success of the 200th anniversary events of the church have been recognized by the state association, and it wants to use Mulberry as a guide for helping other churches celebrate historic anniversaries.

The celebration continues on Oct. 14 with the grand celebration when the church will open the cornerstone.