First Baptist Church Rossville has closed—Some reflections on keeping its history alive
As a writer, I love history. I have reflected on my own life and also traveled in time to describe people and situations from other eras in my home state of Georgia. Friends and neighbors tell me that the doors of First Baptist Church Rossville have closed permanently. I was a member, minister's wife and teacher there for almost twenty years, starting with my husband’s calling in 1961. So the history of this church is personal to me. The memories of the people I loved there will live on for me—whether the doors of the current building remain open or shut.
I particularly remember some of the young people I met at during my time here. For example, we had barely finished moving into the pastor’s house in 1961 when a little girl with ringlets arrived at the door with a cake for us. Mary Ann Michaels was the youngest child of our next-door neighbors, Harriett and Glen. She became my son Alan's best childhood friend and part of our family.
I also remember the first young women’s group I taught which consisted of Marlene, Sandy, Gail, Lynda, and Brenda. Within one year of working together, we had a first-class youth program that included banquets galore, Youth Week, Youth Council and weekend retreats. I loved helping these young women develop as leaders.
I also loved transforming moments in children’s lives. A few years after we arrived at the church, I was leading a children’s church training when it dawned on a young woman, Beth Murdock, that she could become a Christian at any time. She skipped her way out of my class and talked over her big decision with her family. She made her profession of faith either that same night or the following Sunday morning. Such enthusiasm from Beth and a special memory for me.
I could go on with memories of children and youth, but the story would be incomplete without mentioning some of the strong women leaders of Rossville First Baptist. I found most of these women in a group called the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU)—a very active and faithful group that was near and dear as a former missionary and religious education major. Ms. Eddie Johnson, who had been my husband Claude’s schoolteacher many years before, was a spiritual leader of the WMU. My heart skips a beat when I recall the faces of those dear ladies, many of whom can be seen in the picture posted above. I especially enjoyed teaching mission study books to them and engaging in mission action projects. Once a month each of four groups (called WMU “circles”) met in someone’s home. The laughter, the hospitality, and the food (yes, these ladies knew how to cook!) will always stay with me and bring a smile to my face.
So much of who I am today was forged in this loving community known as First Baptist Church Rossville. My memory bank is chock full of incidents I hold dear. This is a brief note to call a few children, young women and senior women to mind. There are so many stories that I am not mentioning here. Of course, I have already written about my husband, Claude and my sons, Alan and Max, and our involvement in the church, in my autobiography, Tarnished Haloes.
The closing of the doors of Rossville First Baptist is not the end. History is kept alive by those of us who actively remember the people of a place and treasure and relive their stories in our minds and hearts!