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Church to mark centennial with two-day celebration

Jennifer Sprouse • Sep 7, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Looking back on a century’s worth of history could seem tiresome, but for the members of one local church, they couldn’t be more proud and are equally excited to celebrate it.

Tacoma Church of God, 1005 John Exum Parkway, has been carefully planning its centennial for months, looking through old photo albums, piecing together information about the church’s longevity and thinking back on old memories, family and friends.

Connie Wright, a chairwoman on the board of administration and coordinator for the church’s centennial, said it all started when she found a quilt that was made and signed by Tacoma’s first members in 1912, the year it was founded.

She said the two-day event scheduled for Sept. 15-16 is almost ready to go.

“We’ve got everything pretty much planned out,” Wright said. “We just want it to be a night of relaxation. We’re very proud of what we have and that we’ve been able to remain that long.”

She said both days will be packed with lots of musical entertainment with The Harvey Family Singers; Eventide, a trio from the First Community Church of God in Kingsport; as well as Dr. Jerry Grubb and David Konstantopolous speaking and helping to lead worship.

Jeanetta Allison and Mildred Prevett have played a big role in acquiring the information used for the wall time line set up in one of the church’s hallways.

Allison, whose husband’s grandfather was the first pastor of Tacoma, which started out in a storehouse and apartments on Grover Street, said the experience has been fun.

“In doing this I’ve learned about my in-laws,” she said. “I just hope that we have another 100 (years).”

Prevett, Tacoma’s historian, has seen a lot of the changes that the church has gone through over the years, having been a member since 1938.

“It’s been a lot of work done by a lot of people and a lot of dedicated people,” she said. “What our church is built on is not membership, but dedication.”

Richard Ballard, who came to Tacoma as pastor just last year, said the 100-year celebration is important not only to the church’s past, but also its future.

“It’s a very special time in the life of a church and it means a great deal to the people here,” Ballard said. “I think this church has meant a great deal to the community for a long time here in Johnson City and I think it’s important … people realize the dedication. Their dedication is strong and they’re committed to the gospel.”

The congregation has shown its dedication through each of the church’s relocations, from the first location on Grover Street, to Maple and Roan streets, to Tacoma Avenue, which is now called West Fairview Avenue, to the current location on John Exum Parkway.

Linda Lyons’ grandfather first joined the church when the services were being held at Allison’s storehouse, and from generation to generation her family has been very active in the church.

“It’s just family tradition,” she said.

Serving as the music director for the church, Lyons said she too is thrilled for the celebration.

“I’m just excited we have reached this point in our church,” she said. “A lot of wonderful people have come through these doors and through the doors of the old church. My hope is that future generations will still have that constant belief in Him.”

Wright said their centennial motto is “A Century of Celebrating our Lord,” and hopes her church family will not only come out and help celebrate, but that they will also learn a little bit about the church.

“I really hope that all of our members develop a sense of where we came from and where we’re going,” she said.

The Sept. 15 celebration will be held from 6-8 p.m. and after the 11 a.m. service on Sept. 16, the event will continue from noon until around 2 p.m.

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