PROFILE 2023: Two centuries strong (WITH GALLERY)
Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 26, 2023
Solida Missionary Baptist Church roots go back to 1823
Solida Missionary Baptist Church has a long history, with its roots dating back to centuries to 1823, when the state of Ohio was only 20 years old, Lawrence County was eight years old and the first white settlements in the South Point area were only a few decades old.
It was in that year that the church, then known Solida Creek Missionary Baptist Church, was officially established by John Lee.
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“It has always in this general location,’ Aaron Childers, who has been the church’s pastor since 2001, said, noting that Lee was the brother of the grandfather of Robert E. Lee, who would command the army of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War.
Childers said the church originally met in log schoolhouse.
“It was a half mile from our present site.”
Childers said there was an attempt to move the church toward the river, to what is now within the village limits, where the post office is located.
“The distance of travel, you can imagine in the 1800s, it became a bit much,” he said. “People here could not travel to make it to services.”
Childers said the original building was razed and the church started a building program in 1929, the same year as the stock market crash that started the Great Depression.
He said the church was able to persevere in those difficult days and continue the work.
“It boggles my mind how God, during all that, still financially helped them build a church building,” he said.
The first services were held there in April 1930.
Childers said that church building lasted until April 14, 1972, when lightning struck the belfry, starting a fire that spread to the rest of the church.
“It burnt to the ground and was completely destroyed,” he said. That’s when they built this building and started rebuilding in behind where the one that burned was.”
During that construction, he said the congregation met at nearby Burlington Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, the historic structure that is currently being restored.
Then, on Jan. 4, 1973, the first services were held in the current Solida church building, located at 64 Pvt. Rd. 2114 near South Point.
That building was further expanded in the mid-1990s, Childers said, when the size of the congregation outgrew the space.
Childers said he was told the longest tenure for a pastor at the church was seven years. He has now been in that position for 22 years.
“I’ve tripled that, I guess,” he said.
When asked what motivates him, Childers replies, “I enjoy helping people.”
“I’ve often thought if I wasn’t pastoring, I would be teaching,” he said. “I love taking a truth or a principle, sharing it with somebody and explaining it so they understand it. So, when they become successful in applying that principle, that brings me joy.”
He said this also is applicable in his service as a coach and substitute teacher.
“Sharing a truth with somebody, whether it’s Biblical, or math or science, it thrills my heart,” Childers said. “That’s probably the fuel that’s keeps me going — seeing people receive Christ as their savior, then discovering truth in the Bible, then growing God’s grace and knowledge and then being victorious in their Christian life. I tell the church all the time, ‘I’m just here to help.’”
Childers says the church currently has about 125 people in average in the congregation, with people coming from all ages.
“We are blessed to have a pretty good mix,” he said. “We have young couples with kids — we had nine in the nursery last Sunday. It’s always a good sign when churches have babies. We have members up to their 80s. The majority are from South Point, but we have people who live in Proctorville, Ashland, Ironton, Huntington and Chesapeake. It’s kind of a representation of the Tri-State area.”
He said many of those families have been with the church for multiple generations, dating back to the 1800s.
“There are families here whose parents and their grandparents and great grandparents have been here,” he said.
The church is engaged in a year-long celebration of its milestone anniversary.
“We’re praising the Lord this year for his grace and mercy on our church for 200 years,” he said. “That’s what this is all about — to honor him for all that he has done.”
He said the first event took place on Feb. 19 – Reflection Sunday.
“We went back and shared out history again with our church – how it started and existed. We showed pictures from the past.”
Next up, he said is Legacy Sunday, set for services on April 30.
“We’re inviting all families who had a part in our church history to join on us on that special day and present their family name,” Childers said. “Some of those people — kids moved off, but there’s somebody here who can represent their family name because their parents, grandparents and great grandparents were invested members of our church through our history.”
He said the culmination of the celebration will be Homecoming Sunday, set for Sept. 24.
“We’re inviting everybody in the community — past, present and future to celebrate our church.”
Childers said they will be inviting county and local officials, a meal will be served on the grounds, while a tent will be set up with a guest speaker and music.
In addition to regular services and Sunday school, Childers said they host a “Superchurch” on Wednesdays for elementary school children, as well as teen programs.
“We also have a bus ministry,” he said. “We have three vans that run on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights to bring in, not just boys and girls, but some adults. That’s a big part of our church.”
Other activities include Vacation Bible School, which takes place the first week of June, while a church camp takes place in the summer in Lavalette, West Virginia.
“It’s one of most looked-forward-to weeks of the entire year,” Childers said.
The church is also active in the community, visiting ProMedica nursing home in Burlington once a month as well as making visits to OVP Recovery three days a week.
“We share 10 principles of God’s work with those in the recovery center,” Childers said. “That’s been a blessing.”
For those who have not attended, Childers said the church has much to offer.
“If you want to be a part of a church family that cares for one another and be a part of a church that speaks the truth in the love of Christ, then we would love to have you join us,” he said. We try to have relevant Bible messages that we apply to daily living and music that encourages and uplifts. I always say that you come one time as a guest and then, the second time you come, you are family.”