Elk Creek Baptist Church celebrated its 200th anniversary recently with a weekend full of activities to mark the auspicious occasion.
Approximately 50 people attended a picnic and concert on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the church’s site where lakefront services are held from the first Sunday of May through the last Sunday of September and into October, weather permitting.
Lynn Stoneking, of Minnesota, who is part of Maranatha Ministries, a musical ministry established by her parents in the early 1970s, was the entertainment.
The following day, the congregation, former pastors, members and friends gathered in the sanctuary for a Sunday service of remembrance and celebration. Over 200 people filled the pews as Robert Crummette impersonated Rev. Littleberry James Haley, one of the early pastors of the church.
Haley served many churches in Louisa County during the county’s earlier days including at Trinity, Little River, Louisa, Bethany, Wallers and South Anna Baptist churches. He led Elk Creek’s congregation on and off for nearly 50 years beginning in April 1857, the longest serving pastor of record.
Rev. Lloyd Long, who was unable to attend the festivities, is the second longest serving minister at Elk Creek. Of the 32 pastors who have led the church, he served for 25 years.
Dr. John Upton, Baptist World Alliance president and executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and Virginia Baptist Mission Board, was a guest speaker during the weekend and the Laurel Hill Baptist Church choir brought the special music.
Laurel Hill is a sister church to Elk Creek and was formed following the War Between the States. The two churches have much shared history and both continue to flourish today.
Dr. Upton’s message, “Four Gestures of Grace,” focused on Jesus’ actions with every loaf of bread he touched.
“You have a large family here with 200 years of history,” Upton said. “Thousands of lives have been touched and changed by members of this church and of your sister church, Laurel Hill, which took what its members learned here and made it their own, touching thousands of more lives.”
Upton asked those in attendance to think about the hands of Jesus and what they represented – strength and prayer.
“The heart of Jesus is in his hands and what he held most often in those hands was a loaf of bread,” Upton said. “He always did four things with that bread – took it, blessed it, broke it and gave it. That’s what he does with us.”
Upton reminded the people that Jesus took what the early leaders of Elk Creek Baptist Church gave him, blessed it, broke the people of their habits and stubbornness and bent them to his will and gave the blessings back to them to share with others, expanding His church over the generations and miles.
“Whatever we place in his hands, he will follow the same routine. It is important to realize what happened in the past and 200 years of service is to be celebrated, but the critical part is what Elk Creek is going to do in the next 200 years,” Upton said. “No matter how small or insignificant the action or project, Jesus will take it from us, bless it, break us to bend and follow his will and give it back to us, transforming us and our small gifts for His glory.”
To read the entire story, see the Sept. 26 edition of The Central Virginian.