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Long before they had a home, River Hill Christian Church members were gathering in Carroll County fields and baptizing in ponds, mud holes and creeks.
Their faith bound them tighter than the walls of any church, but they could only stay outside for so long.
According to the first record books, River Hill was established 100 hundred years ago — July 30, 1910. On Aug. 14, the church will hold a centennial celebration, and is inviting guests to come dressed in old-fashioned clothes.
The first records named the first slate of officers who set out to form the independent Christian church as Jefferson Lineberry, Sam Leonard, Jerry Ayers, Jerry Maners and James Jones.
On Aug. 7, 1910, Elisha Burnette was appointed pastor, and at a meeting on Oct. 1, 1910, Flemine Ayers and Alexander Ayers were appointed to serve as officers of the church.
They had their first meeting in the old River Hill School House, which was heated with a wood stove and lit with oil lanterns.
That building burned, but a deed for the congregation's own church was recorded in 1914 when Sallie Bowers, Lewis Bowers and Huldie Bowers donated the land for the building.
The founders built the original one-room church on River Hill Road.
Over the years the church has grown and many additions and renovations have taken place, including adding Sunday School rooms, enlarging sanctuary, replacing an outhouse with restrooms, adding a baptistery and bell tower, installing a central heating system and putting down carpet.
In 1982, the church was brick cased.
“We have watched the church grow from a one-room building to two buildings; from a gravel driveway to a hardtop drive with extended parking for overflow crowds,” said church member Velma Jones.
In 1989, the fellowship building was completed and dedicated. It is equipped with kitchen and bathroom facilities. It is used for church functions, community gatherings, reunions, wedding showers and anniversary celebrations.
The fellowship building is used for River Hill's special Easter breakfast, the Thanksgiving family dinner and, the first Saturday in November, the ladies auxiliary hosts the annual harvest sale.
Leo Phillips has been pastor for 23 years.
“Leo has been a dedicated part of this congregation,” Jones said. “He and his wife, Linda, have been with us all through happy and sad times.”
The church's officers include elders Frank Carter, Everett Cox and Bill Thomason; and deacons Jalene Quesenberry, Brian Quesenberry and Jerel Jones.
“We all feel so blessed to be a part of this 100th anniversary and we invite everyone to come and celebrate with us as we look back in history,” Jones said.
On Aug. 14 at 5 p.m., the church's celebration will start with a dinner served in the fellowship building and a gospel singing. On the morning of Aug. 15, the Sunday service will start at 10:30 a.m. at the church, with song service by the church singers and highlights from River Hill's history.
“We will be honoring people that are living and those gone before us,” Jones said.
Guests are invited to dress in old-fashioned clothes for the event.