155 years: Mount Calvary Baptist celebrating anniversary Sunday

Published 8:05 am Friday, March 12, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Mount Calvary Baptist Church, one of the oldest churches in Southwestern Michigan, will be celebrating its 155th anniversary on Sunday.
The church, located at 601 Ferry St. in Niles, has gone through a number of changes, but the pride and dedication of its members remains a constant.
Beverly Woodson, chairperson for the church's anniversary celebration, is proud to be a member of a church with so much history and is looking forward to this year's celebration.
Mount Calvary secretary and long-time church member Fredonia Jordan is equally proud to have Mount Calvary as her church.
Mount Calvary Pastor Bryant Bacon said the church is an important asset in the community that will continue to have positive effects in Niles.
Bacon said it is important to keep the spiritual tradition going for generations to come.
On Sunday, Mount Calvary will have a special anniversary celebration service at 3:30. They will welcome the congregations from Community Baptist Church in Elkhart, Ind., and Chain Lake Baptist Church in Cassopolis.
The Rev. Lafate Owens from Community Baptist Church will be the celebration's guest speaker and the Chain Lake choir will be performing at the service.
The anniversary committee selected the appropriate theme of "Still Standing" for Sunday's service.
Mount Calvary is one of the five oldest black churches in Michigan and is recognized as a Michigan Historic Site by the Michigan Historical Commission.
The church began as the Second Baptist Church in 1849 and started as a small log cabin on the southeast corner of Sixth and Ferry Streets.
In 1872, the lot was exchanged for property on the northeast corner of Sixth and Ferry and the log cabin was replaced with a white frame building that served the congregation until 1951.
In 1951, the church made a significant change with the addition of a red brick building on the west end of the existing structure. To go along with the new addition the church changed its name from Second Baptist Church to Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
In 1970, the church underwent another significant expansion by adding the the large building that now serves as Mount Calvary's main sanctuary.
Jernigan said she hopes the church can serve Niles for at least another 155 years.
Woodson said it is great to have a church to look to with so much of a historical background.