Presbyterian church observes centennial milestone this week

For a church to be fortunate enough to reach its centennial celebration is a milestone in itself. But when a congregation is just as excited about a prosperous future as the past 100 years of existence, that’s the true milestone. This weekend, the Brady Presbyterian Church, located at 900 South Blackburn in Brady, will celebrate 100 years of service through God’s work. Presbyterians have roots dating back to the early days of McCulloch County. The East Sweden Church was organized in 1811, and there was a Presbyterian church in Waldrip in 1880. There was also a church in Calf Creek around 1898. As Brady grew, several of the Presbyterians began meeting in town and decided to organize the Brady Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterians began meeting in town sometime around 1901. Before there was an official recognition and organization of the Brady Presbyterian Church, the founding members met in homes and used what was then the old First Christian Church building. Some of the original members at that time were J.A. Snider, Mrs. Karnes, Miss Willie Karnes, Mrs. Hildebrand, Mrs. A.B. Winstead, Mrs. R.A. King and a few others. The church was officially organized in 1903 with 19 members on record. Gatherings were held in Klondyke Hall and the Brady National Bank allowed meetings to be held in its rear office. The first church building was erected on the corner of South Bridge and Fourth Street. The founding pastor, Rev. Thomas P. Grant gave most of his salary back to the church to help the building construction begin. The first children baptized in the new church building were the children of Mr. and Mrs. D.F. Johnson. The first wedding united Mr. Henry Johanson and Miss Annie May Johnson on Dec. 20, 1906. From there, the church grew and later moved to its current location at 900 South Blackburn on March 30, 1941. A dedication service was held in which more than 300 people attended and Rev. George W. Fender preached a sermon titled, “A New Venture For Gold.” Much has happened since that time. Many people have come and gone, pastors have served and retired, ministries ceased and new ones have begun. Today, with 70 members, the church is growing and full of life. Current minister, Rev. Brian Wiggins explains that the membership numbers are now what gives the church its importance. “You have times of great prosperity and times of great lean, ” he said. “What I like about our church is that we continue to get better and better. We’ve had somewhere around 26 new members join the congregation just over the past two years. Our membership has been as high 150, and our biggest loss was during the late 1950s or early 60s. “It says in the notes of the church’s history that a lot of people from the community pitched in to build the church which we worship in today. It’s nice to see that it wasn’t just the members of the church but a big part of the community as a whole that helped contribute to it being built.” An event to precede Sunday’s special centennial celebration service, a free concert will be held Saturday, Oct. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the church. Dana Jacobson, a successful contemporary Christian songwriter and musician will be performing with his band in the church sanctuary. Jacobson grew up in Brady and attended the Brady Presbyterian Church, where he was baptized. His mother is Barbara Jacobson and his aunt, Wilna Shropshire and grandfather, Tom Hill Miller, were Brady residents. He has enjoyed music all of his life and served as news director for KNEL radio from January to July 1979. He now practices law in San Antonio and plays music with his band. He has been playing Christian music all of his life, but within the last three years has turned more to original numbers which he has composed. Presently in the praise band at University UMC in San Antonio, he has played at several Emmaus walks. The concert will be a combination of both contemporary and traditional sounds played on guitar, piano/keyboard and percussion. A free-will offering will be taken at the doors for those who wish to contribute, as they feel led. On Sunday, Oct. 12, a fellowship hour will be offered at 10 a.m. at the church to allow current and past members as well as friends of the community a time to visit with one another. Coffee and refreshments will be served during this brief time which is to be followed with worship at 10:30 a.m. “When we conduct the fellowship hour we plan to have a time line for visitors to write down their memories of their time with the church,” Rev. Wiggins said. Former ministers of the Brady Presbyterian Church will also be in attendance for Sunday’s special service to help celebrate the momentous occasion. “Over time, Dr. John Allsup from the Austin Theological Seminary helped the church to transition. We’ve always had a great deal of support from the seminary and he is going to assist me in the worship,” said Wiggins. Following worship Sunday, lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Brady Middle School cafeteria. Anyone from the community is welcome to stop by the middle school and purchase a meal for $7 each. In the Octoberfest tradition, food items on the day’s menu include bratwurst, potato salad, coleslaw, rolls, cakes and much more. Following the meal, a few arts and crafts booths will be set up at the cafeteria and items will be available for purchase. Around 12:45 p.m., items that have yet to be purchased will be auctioned off. All money raised through the centennial celebration will benefit further improvements to the church. “What we are hoping to do is install a concrete slab on the south side of our church and use that as a recreation area,” Rev. Wiggins said. With the installation of a couple of basketball goals, Wiggins anticipates that the addition will be heavily utilized by the children of the community. In addition, it could also be used for all types of outdoor receptions. “As we raise money through this event, we envision being able to put an outdoor use facility out there that may someday be able to transition into expanded space for the church. “With our centennial celebration, we’re rejoicing about the fact that God has changed a lot of lives and has worked in that church for 100 years,” Rev. Wiggins said. “It is a celebration for us because our future looks so bright. God is working in a lot of different ways, not just in numbers. As we look ahead, the future looks incredibly bright just because we see people doing so much. Our worship attendance has more than doubled over the past two years. “We can look back and thank God for what He has done in the lives of the people who have gone through this place. We’re especially excited about what God is going to do because of what we see in our midst right now. “It’s also good that we are pausing to reflect on what God has done and is continuing to do. There are a large number of churches in Brady, but there is a lot of work still to be done. There is a vast majority of people in Brady who don’t know Jesus Christ. We’re heading into that with enthusiasm because we see the good that God is doing. “I want this celebration to be not just a thanks for the 100 years but a reminder that there is still good to come. There is plenty of opportunity out there for us. We have got some positive momentum and we need to take that into the lives in our community so that they can experience it too.”

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