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Calvary Baptist celebrates 110 years
First Baptist Church of Covington is celebrating its 110th anniversary with a homecoming event. - photo by Darrell Everidge

In 1903, members from First Baptist Church of Covington decided to organize a new church in Covington’s mill village as part of their mission efforts in the community. They succeeded Jan. 27, 1904.

The church has gone through a few name changes — it naturally started off as Second Baptist Church — but it’s still around in the former mill village and is celebrating its 110th anniversary Sunday.

The guest speaker will be the Rev. Frank Daws, a former member who grew up in the now-named Calvary Baptist Church. The anniversary is being combined with a homecoming day celebration, where all former members and attendees are invited to come back.

Sunday school is at 9:45 a.m. with the worship service starting at 11 a.m. and the homecoming celebration immediately following.

“You don’t see homecomings a lot in churches now, but I think we’re trying to maintain some of the tradition of a Southern Baptist church,” said church Secretary Melba Peppers.

A 110-year old church has a lot of tradition and an interesting history.

The church’s 19 charter members held services in their homes at first, before a church building was built on East Street to be used as a sanctuary and school house for both the Baptist and a Methodist church, Peppers said, citing a church history book. However, shortly after that the building was destroyed by a fire in 1905.

Other buildings were used through the years, but the congregation finally got permission to build another church in 1944, and a sanctuary was completed and dedicated in October 1949 at its current location on the corner of Mill Street and U.S. Highway 278.

“The land was given by the mill, and the members labored faithfully, often giving a week’s wages from the cotton mill,” Peppers said, reading from the history.

Once the church was built, the congregation voted to change the name and two choices received equal votes: Covington Mill and Calvary.

The Rev. R.P. Payne broke the tie vote in favor of Calvary, reasoning there won’t always be a mill, but there will always be a Calvary.

The church’s population has grown and waned over the years — at one point services were held in the larger metal building constructed in 1986 — but the church now meets in the sanctuary again.

The historic church is currently in between full-time pastors, and a search committee is seeking a bi-vocational pastor — a pastor who either has another source of income or is retired — to become its preacher for its Sunday and Wednesday night services and perform other ceremonies, Peppers said.

The church is located at 4228 Mill Street, across from Newton Medical Center.