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May 2, 2014

First Baptist Countyline celebrates 100 years

VELMA — Just six miles east of Velma stands a church celebrating a century of service.

First Baptist Church of Countyline will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a revival and a cookout.

The cookout is set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday followed by the revival at 6:30 p.m. with pastor Monte Dean serving as guest evangelist.

“It’s quite an accomplishment for a church,” pastor Sid Bazzrea said. “It’s amazing. A lot of preachers have come out of the Countyline or Velma churches.”

Bazzrea described the nightly revival and the cookout as a homecoming of sorts, welcoming people back to the Countyline community.

He noted there was a time when the number of people in the community had begun to dwindle. Although the people attending the church are concentrated in the Countyline area, he said the church has continued to grow.

“We’re seeing more and more people interested in church,” Bazzrea said.

The church started in 1914 in the Elliot School House. At that time, the church was under the leadership of pastor T.M. Gabriel. The church began meeting at the Countyline School until a permanent location was built in the 1920s.

It wasn’t until 1915 the church formally organized under the direction of pastor C.J. Dewberry.

The permanent location of the church came from land granted for the church’s uses by the J.D. Dixon family. In 1940, the land was deeded to the church.

Throughout the years, the church has undergone numerous changes, including the construction of a tabernacle in 1931. The tabernacle was used for worship when the original building burned.

When things became more difficult for the church during a decline, all buildings except the tabernacle were sold. In the 1950s, a new auditorium was built, the old tabernacle was raised and an education building was completed.

In recent years, the church has built two restrooms, added sound equipment booth to the sanctuary, built a new room and added more parking with RV hookups for visiting evangelists. Bazzrea said the church will soon construct a new fellowship hall behind the church.

“We’ve outgrown the one we’re in,” he said. “It will add 5,00 square feet. We’ll start on it this fall.”

First Baptist of Countyline is a member of the Mullins Baptist Association.

Bazzrea said he is excited to see the growth in the church and is happy to be a part of the 100-year celebration.

“We’re proud of it,” he said.

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