How many people would be willing to walk five miles in an icy wind to worship in a church heated by a pot-bellied stove?
That is what the founding members of Ivy Green Baptist Church experienced a century ago when they established a new place of worship.
Ivy Green’s oldest current church member, Ethel Smith, recalled several events she experienced while being in continual attendance over a span of 91 years. She recalled that most members walked many miles to attend service in a church lit by lamps, heated by wood, with outdoor toilets.
She also remembered when the two-story church building was blown down, destroyed by high winds coming off the Blue Ridge Mountains. The dedication of the Ivy Green members (along with Round Peak Masons, who occupied the top floor) is reflected in the rebuilding of the church in less than a year.
Other memories are of 21-gun salutes at the funeral of her brother, and others lost in WWII. The tombstones in the church cemetery, which number more than 380, reflect losses of members from other wars and tragedies, such as typhoid fever and the flu epidemic, as well as other causes.
She has attended Ivy Green during the leadership of more than 20 pastors, the building of two churches, and numerous remodeling projects which have led to a present-day brick church with all the modern conveniences. Also, she has watched her peers’ children and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren join the congregation, worship and join the fellowship of the unique mountain church, named after the lush green ivy which was so plentiful in the nearby hills.
A Centennial Celebration and homecoming is planned for Sunday at the church to reminisce, share memories, stories and pictures. But the main purpose of the celebration, the church members said, “is to reflect the gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice of the early members and to thank God, whose blessings have enabled the little mountain church at thrive for 100 years.”
The service will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A social time will follow at Round Peak Masonic Lodge with a light lunch and display. Copies of “Reaching Heavenward: The History of Ivy Green Baptist Church 1916-2016” by Dr. Dan Merritt will be available for purchase.