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Local church hosts reunion for youth group

A local pastor has returned to his congregation of more than 200 members after 14 years away from them.

This Sunday, Central Christian Church in Ironton will have a reunion for everyone who was part of the youth ministry of Pastor Brent Baker from 1987 until 1996. Earlier this year, Baker returned to the church as the senior minister and hopes to reconnect with his former youth group.

The worship service will begin at 10:30 a.m. and there will be a light lunch following the service. Baker said he is excited to see everyone again.

“It’s going to be a time of talking and fellowshipping and meeting families,” Baker said. “We’ve got some pictures from the old days and we’ll let them look at that. It’s just a fun kind of get-together, hanging out and reconnecting as much as we possibly can.”

Some former youth group members are excited about the reunion as well. For Melissa Holmes, 27, of Ironton, Baker’s return to the church has been very special. She had been out of church for a couple of years, but when she heard Baker was returning to Central Christian Church, she came back and brought her fiancé, Michael Iery, 30, with her.

“We came back, and now we’re getting married here,” Holmes said. “He’s a member now and got baptized and joined the church.”

“That’s one of the neat things,” Baker said. “I baptized her when she was in the third grade, and I baptized her fiancé about a month ago, and now I get to marry them in September. That’s the joys of the ministry, not only baptizing- that’s the important part – but helping them in their lives together. That’s a reward for me.”

LeeAnn Ball, 24, of Ironton, still attends the church and is excited to see old friends and share old memories. One of her favorite memories was when Baker had to chase down a runaway cow during a live nativity scene in the front lawn of the church property.

“The cow was going down the street, and he was chasing after it,” Ball said.

“I looked up and the cow had escaped out of the pen and it went nine blocks up on Seventh Street,” Baker laughed. “We chased it and got it back, put it in the pen and said, ‘Oh, thank you Lord,’ and I no sooner said it and it jumped the pen and went three blocks the other way. We got it pinned in somebody’s backyard, but it took 13 people.”

Ball said Baker is someone she could always count on.

“If I have trouble or just don’t know what to do with something, or a personal problem, he has always been there and I’ve always known I can count on him,” Ball said.

“There were times they ran away from home and came to my house,” Baker said. Ball’s mother was the church secretary and the families were always very close.

“She ran away twice to my house, “I kicked her out,” he joked.

“When I would get in trouble, I would go to his house,” Ball said. “He saved me a couple of times.”

Baker said that having this strong history with his congregation has been special.

“You pick up relationships right where they left off,” Baker said.