By Mrs. A.F. Burnett


Samaria Baptist Church, Paragon, RR 1, celebrated its sesquicentennial "year of jubilee" with an all day homecoming at the church on June 17, 1979

The church was organized by nine members of Little Mount Church in Owen county on August 15, 1829 in the home of Levi and Miriah Walters, just northwest of what was to become the village of Paragon.

In addition to celebrating 150 years as a lighthouse of God in the community, "international year of the child" was observed by having the children and young people of the community take leading parts in the afternoon program.

The Rev. Ernest Anderson of Plainfield brought the morning message to a congregation of 75 people and 171 persons from 22 churches registered for the afternoon program. Approximately 100 people enjoyed a fellowship dinner at the noon hour.

Planters used to decorate the tables were given to the oldest person present; Ella Goss: and to the oldest Samaria member and the person who joined the church earliest, Mabel Applegate, who joined in 1911. She was also honored for baking and decorating the anniversary cake served at the dinner.

Another planter was given to Mary Ann (Bonness) Senseny from Plano, Texas for traveling the farthest; and another went to Albert Carter, who joined the church in 1915 and has served faithfully for 64 years since. He is presently church moderator, treasurer, and deacon and attends Sunday school and church regularly.

The last planter was given to Rev. Warren Todd who is the present pastor and was in the services for the first time since Easter Sunday, having spent the past two months in Methodist Hospital at Indianapolis.

Todd gave the call to worship and the benediction for the afternoon program. Laurie Watson, Donette and Dana Brock opened the program with piano selections.

Two dramatizations were given by the children and youth. "History of Church Organization" was narrated by Lisa Wilson, with parts by Angela Walters, Holly Watson, Dana Brock, Tammie and Donna Carpenter, Earlene Dittemore, and Kristin Brummett. "History of Lighting" featured Jeff Strawder, Steven Watson, Earl Dittemore, Terry Arthur, Angie Stevens, Roy McClure, Jay Strawder and Jerry Strawder.They showed hand dipped candles, lantern, kerosene hanging lamps, gasoline chandelier, carbide fixture, electric and florescent lights and told when each was used to light Samaria church in its 150 years.

Robert Nolan, Jr. showed the church deed handwritten on July 28, 1835 by Scott W. Young and made by David and his wife, Hannah Gibbons to Samaria trustees, William Mannan, Elijah Bowman, Grafton Baker Whitaker and Levi Whitaker. Descendants of the Whitaker family haved served the church through the years. Many are members today and Robert is the youngest among them.

Two former pastors attended the services Sunday. The Rev. and Mrs Allen Finkbiner and Allen II came from Corydon, and the Rev and Mrs. Leopal Day from Kansas City, MO. Day was the pastor from 1969-1975. He led the congregational hymns, "Faith of Our Fathers" and "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning", "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Blest be the Tie". He accompanied with guitar the children and youth in singing "This Little Light of Mine", "Do Lord", "They Will Know we are Christians By Our Love".

The Rev. Edward Randall, Indiana Baptist Convention area minister to town and country churches delivered the rededication sermonette. He distributed copies of pictures from newspapers of 1829 showing President Andrew Jackson, people in costumes of the times and stage coaches, which provided public transportation of that time. He proclaimed that in the years to come, Samaria would continue to witness to the resurrection, many would come to know Jesus as Lord and inspired by the love of God, his message would continue to reach the needy, "for God so loved the world".

Bulletins for the day listed significant events in Samaria Church history. A poem, "Memories of Old Samaria" written by Lillie Smith Allee more then 40 years ago, was endorsed in the bulletin.

The "year of jubilee" commitee, Mrs. Archie Burnett, Mrs. Robert Nolan and Mrs Larry Cooper, said they appreciated the many people who cooperated to make the day a memorable occassion. Special thanks went to parents for busing and coaching the children; to Harold McClure who piped water from his home across the road to supplement the church's water supply; and to Mr and Mrs Everett Allee who furnished roses from their garden to decorate the tables and the sanctuary.

Friendship Association will have its annual meeting at Samaria Church on Sunday September 23, with an afternoon program, fellowship supper and evening program. Mrs John Burns, association moderator; the Rev Wilson Smith, Jr., Martinsville Baptist Church pastor; and Mrs Burnett, clerk of Samaria Chruch are planning a historical emphasis for the annual meeting.