ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – A church in Erwin celebrated a major milestone Sunday, June 26.
The month of June marks 200 years that Erwin’s First Baptist Church has opened its doors to downtown and the surrounding community.
Sunday, the church was the site of a special celebration with multiple worship services, a bell choir performance and a lunch to honor members of the past and present.
Lead Pastor Koby Strawser says First Baptist is the Holston Baptist Association’s longest running church.
“We like to call ourselves Erwin’s church because our roots run deep. For 200 years we have been, we feel like, a beacon of hope for the community,” said Strawser.
One member of First Baptist was recognized Sunday for being a part of the congregation for more than 80 years. Several other members were also honored for decades of attendance.
Over the years, First Baptist has helped establish other churches across Unicoi County and Erwin; those churches have now helped create new churches, too.
Several other local church congregations gathered alongside First Baptist for their worship service and celebration Sunday.
Strawser says the church’s mission for the past two centuries has been serving the community and that is what they plan to do for the next 200 as the church keeps growing.
“It doesn’t have to be numerical growth, although we will take that. We just want to have a strong presence downtown. We want people to know who we are, what we are about and that our doors are always open,” said Strawser.
Their mission statement reads : “in Christ for community and in community for Christ.”
The church is located in the heart of downtown Erwin, right off of Main Street. Church leaders say anyone and everyone is welcome if they are searching for a church family.
First Baptist currently has around 150 to 200 resident members.