Zachary United Methodist Church celebrates 125 years of service Sunday, and everyone is invited.
The service will combine the traditional with the contemporary, uniting members past and present for a special service at 10:30 a.m. Dinner on the church grounds will follow.
Between 1861-1889, Methodists of the Zachary and Plains area worshipped at Pipkins Chapel, which administered the spiritual needs of those living in the Baker and Zachary areas.
Rough traveling conditions to Pipkins via Old Bayou Sara Road contributed to member decline, according to church member Margaret Harmon, anniversary committee chairwoman.
The chapel once held lively meetings with churchgoers of all denominations; however, after years of struggling to remain in existence, Pipkins disbanded in 1896. Zachary United Methodist Church today houses the few remaining chapel records.
After the incorporation of Zachary, Methodists and remaining members of Pipkins Chapel joined together and purchased 2 acres of land from Emily Sanford on April 7, 1890, establishing Zachary Methodist Episcopal Church South. The first sanctuary was built soon after, with the Rev. J.T. Leggett appointed as its first minister.
The first wooden church, also built in 1890, witnessed a congregation’s growth up to 137 members by 1900.
A fire destroyed the church in 1914, but by that fall, a new church was constructed over the ashes of the first and it eventually grew, needing more space.
In 1949, a larger brick sanctuary was built that served churchgoers, unchanged, for more than 55 years. The brick sanctuary included new church pews, a narthex for entry, two bathrooms, storage space, a bride’s room, balcony and a grand front section of stained glass, which can be seen today from the street side of the church.
“We are blessed to have the first couple ever married in the 1949 church, Hardee and Betty Jo Brian, who still live in the Plains area of Zachary,” Harmon said. “The Brians were married July 1, 1949, by the Rev. Kenneth G. McDowell and will be given special recognition on Sunday.”
The historic milestone will include open house tours of all church property and buildings, including the new Family Life Center and The Little School, with a guide to answer questions; a display of antique and historical artifacts from the 1890s; a poster listing all 137 charter members; a display of scrapbooks from the 1950s to 2006; a slideshow of couples who married at ZUMC from 1891 through the decades; oral history project books displayed; and construction of a brush arbor recognizing the church’s struggling beginning.
All anniversary planning committee members will be wearing vintage aprons on loan for the day from the Zachary Historical Village.
A release of red and white balloons will conclude the festivities.
“This year we celebrate our history while also embracing the future. We started a new contemporary service in the spring to include a changing world of worship seekers, but we still have our traditional service for those appreciating a tried and true approach,” Harmon said. “On Sunday, these services will be combined for a truly special anniversary celebration.”
Ricky Willis is pastor at Zachary United Methodist.