2/20/2005 Deserving Mark: First Independent nabs local historical
Members of First Independent Baptist Church display the
historical marker assigned to their landmark facility. Pictured
are, first row, left to right, Everitt Liggins (trustee), Pastor
Donald Lacey, Warner Redus (events coordinator) and Gwen Woods
(youth director); second row, from left, Cleo Lee (trustee and
public relations), Mary Whitfield (musician), Rev. Moses Miller
(assistant) and Cathenya Watson (youth director). Daily Sun
photo/RAYMOND LINEX II
By RAYMOND LINEX II/Daily Sun Staff
As First Independent
Baptist Church approaches its 138th anniversary, it does so with
state notoriety. The marker out front since 1980 backs it up.
Local significance means a lot too, so gaining recognition from the
city's Historical Commission was important to its members. Earlier
this month, the Commission voted to designate the current location
on East Fifth Avenue as its first church and African-American
It has stood since 1918, undergoing a
variety of changes, but maintaining one cause: To provide a place to
worship the Lord.
"We realized we didn't have a marker on the city level," said
Rev. Donald Lacey, who celebrates his 51st birthday today.
Lacey, the 24th pastor to lead First Independent and in his fifth
year, said senior believers wanted to see their church honored. They
first contacted the state Historical Society, which told them they
must deal with the city, first.
The church's timing made the
Historical Commission honor a smooth one, Lacey said.
took 24 hours, as far as getting in contact with (Commission member)
Malinda Sharpley and getting the application filled out and back
in," he said.
At the Commission's meeting earlier this month,
First Independent was approved, a presentation made and plans set to
place the marker on the front of building over the steps that lead
into the sanctuary.
The marker was set Feb. 9, with several
of the church members on hand.
"We're proud of it," Everett Liggins said.
"They deserve it,"
Construction on the current location began June
19, 1917 according to church historians. It was completed in
September of 1918 at a cost of about $25,000. The building has been
The dome ceiling made up of stained glass
now gives way to a lowered, more modern ceiling as a result of the
church receiving air conditioning and heating in 1968, member Warner
Redus said. In the early '70s, the pews were upgraded, she said. The
parsonage was also remodeled during that time.
structure still holds onto its early looks today in many ways, and
members finally have something on the local level to represent that.
"We're just excited about the whole thing," Lacey said. "It's a big
part of community, not just on the historical level, but in being
able to contribute to the community."
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