New Harmony Missionary Baptist Church

Contributed by Barry Duvall

Vision Statement of New Harmony Baptist Church

Working together to bring people to Jesus and into the fellowship of His church, to encourage them toward spiritual maturity, and equip them for their ministry within the church and beyond, that together we might exalt our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

Beginnings

New Harmony Missionary Baptist Church began with a series of brush arbor meetings. In the fall of 1932 Bro. Herbert Stobaugh with the help of several young men in the Gishton community built the first small arbor approximately 16x16 where he led church services. It was located on what is now Gishton road, .8 of a mile east of HWY181.

The next year in the late spring of 1933 a larger arbor was built, .4 of a mile west of the original site. Sister Eula Dell Craig and the female song leader, who accompanied her, conducted these services.

In the fall of 1933 a much larger brush arbor was built across the road from the Joe Peveler store. Here Bro. Herbert Stobaugh held nightly services. The meetings in the brush arbor continued for weeks and people came from miles around to hear the gospel.

When winter approached Bro. Joe Peveler offered his store building as a meeting place. Bro. Herbert Stobaugh was the first to preach in the Little Red Store House.

Several people led in the church services: Bro. Stobaugh, Bro. Bryant Wice, and Willie Crunk. Sunday school and Wednesday night prayer service were organized.

In the summer of 1934, the members decided that it was time to constitute into a church.

Organization Minutes

A presbytery composed of [blank] met at the Gishton mission on Sunday afternoon, September 30, 1934, for the purpose of partial organizing a United Missionary Baptist Church. After a song by the choir and prayer offered by Rev. Bryant Wice, an invitation for membership was given.

The following persons came forward to become members of this organization by letter (L) or baptism (B). (*) denotes charter member living:

The charge to the church was read by Brother J.J. Collier. Brother J.W. Gill spoke and the church covenant was read by Brother J.J. Collier. After a song and handshake, adjourned to baptize the next Sunday.
Mod. Rev. Bryant Wise
Clerk E.P. Noffsinger

Pastor Bryant Wice held the first baptizing Sunday Oct. 7, 1934 at South Carrollton in the Green River, with 18 candidates being baptized.

The final meeting to complete the organization of a United Missionary Baptist Church was held Sunday afternoon, October 28, 1934. Evie Evans was elected church clerk. After a discussion about what the church should be called, the church was named New Harmony.

The following month, Joe Peveler and Joe McIntyre were elected deacons by secret ballot. Since J.H. Richey was a deacon in Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church, he was chosen as one of the deacons.

Wednesday, August 28, 1935, 10:00 AM, the Muhlenberg County Baptist Association met at Central City First Baptist Church. New Harmony church petitioned the county association for admission to the association. A committee of three was appointed to examine the credentials, and articles of faith of the newly organized church. Wednesday afternoon, 1:00 PM, the committee reported favorable and it was moved and seconded to receive the church into the association.

Bro. Ben Woodburn was elected pastor unanimously and served from January 1937 to December 1948. His first sermon was taken from Acts 5:15.

In October 1937, Bro. Joe Peveler and wife Rosa deeded the property for the church. The next year, the roofing, siding, flooring, and windows were improved. A poplar tree was handcrafted to make seats with backs. In July 1939, a revival with Bro. Boyd Browning preaching was held. Thirteen members were received by letter and 20 members by baptism. On June 27, 1940, the first funeral conducted in New Harmony Church was for deacon Joe Peveler, by Pastor Ben Woodburn. During 1941, the inside of the church was painted. Also, a piano and used benches were bought. The church was dedicated, August 30, 1942, with Bro. O.P. Bush preaching the dedication sermon. In 1943, a new floor and carpet runner was laid across the altar and down the isle to the front door.

The next year, in the summer of 1944, Cleveland Bruce asked Graden Jarvis to approach the church about the matter of moving the church out on Highway 181, on land the Cleveland Bruce family would donate for a church building and cemetery. On Sunday evening, August 18, 1944, a special called business meeting was held. Appointed to the building committee were E.G. Capps, Arthur Reno, and J.H. Richey. The finance committee was Dovie Reno, Hallie Bruce, and Eula Bruce. Throughout the next year many people labored to clear the land and build the church.

The first service was held on Saturday night, November 3, 1945. The pianist was Odessa (Gish) Richey. Herbert Bruce led the choir in singing Amazing Grace and Jesus Lover of My Soul. Farley Bruce read the devotional scripture from 1 Kings 9. Bro. J.H. Richey led in prayer. Bro. Ben Woodburn read in Psalms and Sister Eula Bruce led in prayer. There were 47 members present.

Cleveland Bruce, Hallie Bruce, and Willard Bruce conveyed lots 1 and 2 to New Harmony Church on November 24, 1945. Lot 1 to be used for Church purposes and lot 2 for the cemetery. The old church building was sold for $200.00.

The first wedding held in New Harmony Church was on Sunday morning September 8, 1946. William Jarvis and Ura Mae Bruce were married by Bro. Bob Spears.

The new church was dedicated on Sunday, June 5, 1947. Rev. S.P. Browning preached the morning sermon, his subject being the need of a scriptural church. The afternoon sermon was by Rev. Carter on the need for scriptural giving. The value of the church property was now $5000.00 paid in full. In January 1949, Bro. Bryant Wice was re-elected pastor and served until December 1951.

On January 9, 1949, the first funeral and burial at the new church and cemetery was held by Bro. Ben Woodburn for Staff Sgt. Woodrow Bruce, who was killed in Germany on July 11, 1945.

Bro. David Mefford was elected Pastor on January 1, 1952. The W.M.U. was organized in November 1952 with Jeraldine Bruce president. Four Sunday school rooms were added with a full basement, and 100 folding chairs were purchased. In 1953, new hardwood floors were put down in the auditorium. A piano, pulpit, and two pulpit chairs were bought also. January 1954, Bro. Henry Johns was the first pastor elected for an indefinite call. The church went full time in October and the pastor's salary was raised to $100 per month. We also began the Minister's retirement plan. In December a plot of ground across the highway from the church was bought from Cleveland and Hallie Bruce for $500 to build a parsonage. The parsonage was completed in 1955 and valued at $8,000. In 1956, intermediate G.A. and Sunbeams were organized. Bro. Duncan Smith served as pastor from June 1958 to September 1960. In 1959, the auditorium was redecorated from the floor up, storm windows and doors were also installed. In June 1959 we had dedication services for our Sunday school rooms and parsonage. All of the former pastors: Bro. Wice, Bro. Woodburn, Bro. Mefford, and Bro. Johns preached a sermon. On September 3, 1959, a piece of land was donated and deeded to New Harmony from Cleveland and Hallie Bruce to build a cemetery road.

In 1960, four more Sunday school rooms were built along with two restrooms and a full basement under the added rooms. Bro. Leslie Moody served as pastor from December 1960 to June 1962. In 1961 a new gas furnace was installed under the educational building. Cemetery lots were raised from $8 to $25, and the church connected to natural gas. Bro. James Crowell served as pastor from November 1964 to June 1968. Storm windows and gas furnace were installed at the parsonage. In 1966 a new furnace and air conditioner unit was installed at the church. In August it was voted to raise the Cooperative program from 10% to 15%. November 1968, Bro. Tom Woodson was elected pastor. In 1969, the first church organ was bought and Odessa Richey was elected organist. In August 1969, New Harmony went on record with letter to NASA Headquarters commending the astronauts for reading the Bible in space. In December a telephone was installed in the church office. It appears, that in 1970, Bro. Woodson was the first delegate to be sent to the Southern Baptist Convention from New Harmony. The church homecoming was on August 30. In 1971 the baptistery was installed, Sunday school rooms were air conditioned, and the cemetery lots were raised from $25 to $50. In June 1972, Bro. Danny Saunders was elected pastor. A piece of land, south of the church, was donated and deeded to the church by the Forehand family and the parking lot was enlarged.

In January 1973, a planning and building committee was appointed. On Sunday, April 8 after a fellowship meal, the committee presented 3 plans to the church to be voted on. After an overwhelming vote for plan #3 an extensive building and remodeling program began. The front of the building was extended, adding new space and Sunday school rooms. A porch was built, a steeple, and church sign erected, and the outside of the church was bricked. The interior was completely redecorated including new pews and pulpit furniture at a cost of approximately $46,000. In 1974, bookshelves were put up in the nursery and Sunday school rooms. A bus was donated to the church, and it was voted to begin a bus ministry. Central air was put in the parsonage and bookshelves were completed in the library. In June 1976, Bro. Joe Weldon came as pastor. The church installed its first water fountain. In April 1977, a parsonage building committee was appointed to study and bring back its recommendation to the church. Plans were drawn and approved to build an addition on the parsonage, consisting of a bedroom, bathroom, and family room, and also to brick the entire building. At a special called business meeting on September 18, the contract was given to Bobby Richey for $25,000.00 or less. The building program was completed in 1978 and the parsonage was insured for $50,000.00. In 1978, a new piano was purchased for the sanctuary and the bus was sold. The monthly business meeting of the church was changed from the first Wednesday to the second Wednesday night of the month. Effective June 13, 1979, the cemetery lots were raised from $50 to $100. Drapes were installed on the front of the baptistery and the back wall was painted.

In June 1980, Bro. Fred Richardson came as pastor. In the summer of 1981, a group of youth and adults went on a Bible school and revival mission trip to New Mexico. On April 14, 1982 it was moved to form a finance committee to look into the possibility of borrowing money for a building. Bro. Fred introduced a ballot to bring before the church on Sunday concerning the location, building and financing of a fellowship hall. On May 11, 1983 it was voted to build a new fellowship hall. The moderator appointed a committee to investigate the cost and submit a plan to the church. The new fellowship hall would be constructed adjoining the west side of the church property. A portion of this land was given and deeded to the church by the Forehand family in memory of Louie Forehand. On August 10, 1983, at a special called business meeting, the building committee submitted their recommendation to the church. The plans called for a fellowship hall, two restrooms, one Sunday school room, and a hallway. It was moved and passed to accept the committee's plans as long as the expense did not exceed $70,000. By the spring of 1984, the building was complete and the committee reported at the May 14 business meeting that the total cost of the fellowship hall including furnishings and rooms leading into the fellowship hall at $64,961.22. The old fellowship hall in the basement was divided into three rooms by volunteer labor. During July of the same year, five Acteen girls and two leaders went to Fort Worth, TX, to the National Acteen convention.

The following year three hundred new testaments were purchased to use in the Sunday school enlargement campaign and the summer revival. The R.A. cabin was finished and a phone was installed in the fellowship hall. The church and furnishings were insured for $270,000.00 and the parsonage for $65,000.00. In March 1987, a new organ was bought and in April the youth went to Lexington to the Foreign Mission Board Missionary appointment service. In February of 1988, the church voted to go into the expanded annuity program. In May 1988, Bro. Daniel Saunders returned to New Harmony as Pastor. In 1989, a new sound system was installed in the church. In February 1990, it was voted to increase the cooperative program offering 1%, which would put it at 17%. In December, during the Desert Storm Conflict, Christmas gifts were sent from the church to those who were serving in Saudi Arabia from Muhlenberg County. In January 1991, forty Bibles were bought and placed in the church pews.

February 17, 1991, Bro. Bill Egbert came as pastor. In the summer, he and the youth group attended the youth discipleship training program in Panama City, Florida. A special fund was started to buy handbells. In June, $2,585.00 was presented to the church. The first handbells were purchased and the bell choir was organized. In the summer of 1992, the church helped finance Bro. Bill on a mission trip to Brazil as part of the Brazil-Kentucky partnership mission project. In September, Mr. & Mrs. John Bruce presented 100 New Baptist Hymnals to the church in memory of Hobart and Minnie Bruce. It was moved that any monies received from the sell of cemetery lots would go into the cemetery fund. In December, the church debt of $4,500.00 was paid in full to Mt. Pisgah Church for our half of the baseball park on Highway 70. A letter dated December 7, 1992, was sent to Mt. Pisgah expressing our sincere appreciation for allowing us to be a part of the joint venture. March 16, 1994, it was reported that the associational executive board had decided to build a new association office. It would be financed with gifts and a suggested 1% increase in associational giving, plus periodic gifts to the project.

July 13, 1994, the T.H. Bruce memorial find was established with the interest and dividends to benefit the young people of New Harmony Church. In August, it was moved to increase our associational giving by 1% to help build the new office building. This will put our offering at 4% and will stay in tact until the building is paid in full. In November it was moved to implement a cemetery fund where only the interest could be used for the care of the cemetery. On December 11, Bro. Bill Egbert resigned as pastor because he and Linda, his wife, had felt God call to go into full time foreign mission service. They, with son Matthew, and daughter Jessica, are serving in Costa Rica as church planters. During Bro. Oliver's interim, he appointed a committee to investigate the feasibility of building a new church or expanding our present structure. On February 12, 1996, Bro. Scott Bennett came as our pastor. On February 12, 1997, the feasibility committee reported and recommended two options to the church: expand or build a new sanctuary. The committee then asked to be dismissed from their duties. In April, Bro. Scott reported that he had appointed a building committee consisting of 6 men. At the next month's business meeting a motion was made and carried for the church to take a building fund offering the first Sunday of each month in addition to the regular offering. In May, it was voted to build a garage at the parsonage for an estimated cost of $5,000.00.

Bro. Dan Yeager came as pastor of New Harmony on June 7, 1998. In August, it was voted to begin a children's church with Sandy Yeager as the organizer. In September, it was voted to set aside the last Sunday in September 1999 to hold the church homecoming to commemorate the 65th anniversary of New Harmony Church. In October, a motion was made to participate in the area wide Celebrate Jesus 2000 Crusade, which was to be held October 3-6, 1999. In December, a letter of support was sent to Kentucky Baptist Home for Children for their standing on beliefs of the Bible. In April 1999, Eddie Gray made a motion to investigate the procedure needed to incorporate the church. Halbert Nelson, Eddie Gray, and Anthony Capps made up this committee. In May, the mission vision of the church was presented to the church and accepted. It reads as follows:

Vision Statement of New Harmony Baptist Church
Working together to bring people to Jesus and into the fellowship of His church, to encourage them toward spiritual maturity, and equip them for their ministry within the church and beyond, that together we might exalt our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

In June, changes were made in the church by-laws. The changes were #21 in the Articles of Faith, and section 3 concerning voting rights of members. On June 20, 1999 at a special called business meeting, Eddie Gray moved and it was passed to incorporate New Harmony Baptist Church. It will hence forth be known as New Harmony Missionary Baptist Church of Bremen, Inc.

New Harmony began on September 30, 1934 with 43 charter members, with Bro. Bryant as the first pastor. They were given the use of a one room country store building as a meeting place. In 1936, the pastor's salary for the year was reported at $47.00. Gifts to missions were $6.00. In 1937, when the property was donated and deeded to the church, it was valued at $200.00. Today, September 26, 1999, we have 443 members & 346 resident members with an average morning worship attendance of 100. Total Sunday school enrollment of 184, with an average attendance of 93. Our total receipts for the past year was $105,148.00. Our total property value is $360,000.00. During our 65 years we have baptized 543 people. As we reflect on our heritage, may we always reach out to our future. The new millennium has great things in store for those who love and serve the Lord.

Our vision statement says, “Working together to bring people to Jesus and into the fellowship of his church, to encourage them toward spiritual maturity, and equip them for their ministry within the church and beyond, that together we might exalt our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” To some perhaps only words but to many these are marching orders. New Harmony did not begin 65 years ago by chance, but rather it was a movement of God. Some would say there was no need in an area so already dense with churches for another congregation to spring up. New Harmony is not just another congregation but a church that is distinct in its personality and demeanor. We have reached a portion of this community that would not have been reached had we not been here to present the Gospel in our own unique style.

Many of those who made those early commitments and sacrifices to see a church established here are no longer with us, but the church they helped establish still remains. Our prayer is that we the congregation worshiping here today, may leave as much to our next generation as was left here for us. May New Harmony continue to be a shining light pointing the way to the Savior. Thank you for being a part of this milestone in the life of our church and its commitment to the future.

Dedication

This brief history of New Harmony Baptist Church is dedicated to my parents, to those who have shared their memories with me, and to the past and present members who have given of their time, talents, and resources over the years to build this house of worship and provide us the opportunity to celebrate this our 65th Anniversary.

Compiled by: Ura Mae Bruce Jarvis