On June 11, a local baptist church held a mortgage burning ceremony. Springfield Baptist church is the oldest African American Baptist church to be in continuous service in the United States.
Hardy S. Bennings, III is the pastor of Springfield Baptist Church. He says that they have dreamed of being debt-free for some time. It took a lot to make it happen. “Today is a climax. It is the mountain top of a journey. It took sacrificial giving and everybody putting resources to the mortgage.”
Pastor Bennings believes it is right to let the senior members do the honors. Among the seniors are couple Harriet and Jullian Greene who have been coming since 1961. “It’s been a long time coming and we really worked hard and I think this is a combination of what really hard work can do.” says Harriet Greene. Her husband agrees. “Obviously God was with us. There is nothing that we did that was so special. We’ve been blessed. We’ve had our problems but we’ve been blessed.”, explains Mr. Greene.
According to Mr. Greene this struggle dates all the way back to the start of the church in 1787. He says the people who came before them would be proud.
And right outside of the front of the church are the graves of previous pastors. Members of the church say that their leadership is why the church is still around today. “We are grateful to God for the road that they have paved for us and the backs they lowered that we could walk on.”, says Pastor Bennings
So what is next for the oldest African Baptist church in America? “Now we have resources that are available to do ministry and do more things in the community to bring about more out reach.”, explains Pastor Bennings.
Copyright 2017 WFXG. All rights reserved.