The 25th annual Mid-Town Church Walk in Louisiana will take place beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Bethel A.M.E. Church, located at 6th and Tennessee Streets. The event is free to all and is sponsored by the Louisiana Area Historical Museum. It is hoped that in addition to the beautiful Christmas music being presented at each of the six churches during the Church Walk, participants will notice distinct differences in each church building and be aware of their rich histories.
The Bethel A.M.E. is one of the few religious buildings in the nation to be on the National Register of Historic Places. It was constructed in 1883. Guests should notice the sashes in the 12 arched windows, which are original to the building. Originally there was stained glass in each window, but they were vandalized many decades ago. Five windows were located in the basement and have been replaced where they belong. Rev. Stephanie Allen currently serves as pastor.
At the next stop on the Walk, the First Christian Church Choir will be singing Christmas songs and there will be a solo by Beverly Cogar. The church is located at 517 South Carolina Street. Visitors are encouraged to notice a large wooden cross, which previously hung over the altar before the church burned in 1994. The metal cross, which topped the steeple, was also saved from the fire and sits atop the current steeple. At the entryway there is a bell that was also salvaged from the fire and it is dedicated to those who helped in the church’s reconstruction. Rev. Ruth Ann Jones is the minister of the church.
The First Baptist Church at 7th and South Carolina Streets will be the next stop. This church was restored in 1974 following a fire where the smoke damage ruined the steeple and sanctuary. Many improvements have been made through the years, including a huge project to restore the stained glass windows to their original glory and also for upgrading the sound and video systems in the sanctuary. The minister is Rev. Bill Maupin and the music director is Neil Darnell.
The next stop is directly across the street to Centenary United Methodist Church. The minister is the Rev. Art Moore and the director of the handbell and chancel choirs is Joanna Brock. The Methodist Church was located in various buildings around town, at one time building a brick structure at the corner of 7th and Tennessee Streets, which later served as City Hall. The current building was established in 1887. The Kilgen pipe organ, which is still in use today, was installed in 1929.
Calvary Episcopal Church is served by the Rev. Pat Glenn, and their musical contribution will be vocal music by Martha Weston and Dennis Babbitt, who have become well-known in the area for their enjoyable performances. The Episcopal Church was organized into a congregation in 1853. The congregation built a new wooden framed church located at the corner of 5th and Virginia Streets, but in 1878 they purchased the property at 704 Georgia Street and moved the wooden structure on rollers to it’s present location. The building was faced with red brick and this structure and has served well for it’s congregation over the past 125 years. Traditionally, Calvary Episcopal decorates their church for Christmas on Christmas Eve.
Concluding the Church Walk will be group singing of carols and hymns at the First Presbyterian Church at 121 South 8th Street. The present church building was dedicated in 1891 and the stained glass windows are original to the building. The sanctuary has a seven rank pipe organ, with chimes added in the 1940’s that are still in use. The addition that houses offices, classrooms, kitchen, and fellowship hall was added in 1962. Accompanist for the congregational singing will be Marilyn Johnson.
Following the event, which will conclude at 4:55 p.m., everyone is invited to a soup supper in the lower level of the First Presbyterian Church. Three varieties of soup will be served as well as homemade desserts. A donation will be gratefully accepted for the meal, keeping in mind that all proceeds go to helping keep the Louisiana Area Historical Museum, which is a great asset to downtown Louisiana and a resource for people of the entire area.
More information is available by contacting any of the following Board members: Judy Schmidt, president; Brent Engel, vice-president, Ned Glenn, secretary; John Valentino, treasurer; along with Linda Beer, Jean Eastman, Eileen Hoffman, Trent Meyers, John Murray, Ann Narramore, Carol Oldani, Charlotte Perrine, Jerry Smith, Juanita Thomas, and Dorothy Webb.
Treat yourself to a wonderful Christmas event by attending the Louisiana Area Historical Museum’s Mid-Town Church Walk, on Sunday, Dec. 9, beginning at 3 p.m.