WARREN — Friendship Baptist Church, 1954 Brier St. SE, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding.
The Rev. Dr. Avan Odom, pastor of the church, said two events will be held this weekend.
A musical celebration “Reflections in Song” will be held 2 p.m. today and 10:30 a.m. Sunday will be a 100th anniversary celebration service with the Rev. Michael Harrison Sr., pastor of the Union Baptist Church in Youngstown, as a guest preacher.
The service will recognize current members and honor earlier members who have died.
Odom said the theme of the celebration is “Celebrating the Past. Anticipating the Future.”
Odom credits the church’s 100 years to the “grace and sustaining power of the Lord Jesus Christ” and the “tremendous” pastoral leadership over the years. He also credits the love and support of the members who have helped the church thrive.
The Rev. M. H. Hughley organized the church on March 19, 1921, in the southeast section of the city where he resided.
The church originated on Milton Street and the Brier Street location between Duke Avenue and Thomas Road was purchased three months later.
The church has been there since 1921, but a new edifice has been added. The Rev. William Richardson led the construction of that.
Odom, who officially was installed as pastor in 2013, said he has enjoyed his time at the church.
Odom said the church does a lot to help local residents, including recently completing the Thanksgiving bag of blessings for people, especially the Willard Middle School students.
In the summer, the church holds a “Fun in the Sun” event handing out school supplies and clothes for children and also serves meals at the nearby St. Vincent de Paul center in Warren.
Kathleen Brown, the 100th anniversary chairperson, said, “We are so blessed to be part of this great celebration. I pray that in another 100 years, this church will still be growing and our families will still be worshipping in this house of the Lord.”
Regina Patterson, a member since 2013 and church secretary, said, “It has been a blessing to be part of the 100-year celebration of the church.
“We will continue great things as a church body and continue our outreach involvement in the community,” she said.
“It is important that Christ remain the head of the church, which he is, and that we continue to look to him and trust him to sustain is through these unnavigated times that we are now enduring,” Odom said.
He said the church is planning for the holiday season and will celebrate the Christmas holiday season with a Christmas worship 10:30 a.m. Dec. 26. The annual watch night New Year’s Eve event will not be held this year due to the pandemic.
Highlights of the church over the 100 years include:
• The Rev. S.N. Dulaney became the pastor in 1924, and under his leadership church departments were organized such as Sunday school, choir and usher board;
• The construction of the first edifice was begun and completed in 1929;
• Bethel Baptist and New Hope Baptist churches joined. The two churches merged in July 1945;
• A new parsonage was erected on purchased land on Van Wye Street, and a modern sanctuary was erected in 1973 and was liquidated in 1978. A modern religious center was completed and dedicated in December 1981;
• The Rev. William Richardson organized the 12th Birthday Club to support financially building improvements and church upkeep. He retired in 1985 after 20 years at the church.