“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Turkey Branch Missionary Baptist Church is using that Bible verse as a testament to its perseverance and faith in God, to whom they rededicated their church following a devastating fire in 2011.

Illegal dumping and a series of break-ins have been among the other hurdles for the church, which will celebrate its 107th anniversary this year, but that has not diminished the spirit of its members.

The congregation has steadily rebounded from the severe damage it sustained from an Oct. 26, 2011 fire. A rededication service was held in celebration of the renovated sanctuary on Sunday at the church, which is located at 1690 Silver Springs Road in Neeses.

People are also reading…

How did the church come this far?

“By the grace of God. One of my favorite scriptures in Isaiah 40 says, ‘But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.’ It’s by faith that we’re still here,” said the Rev. Clyde D. Holliday, church pastor.

“I’ve been pondering. The church has been broken in, stole the computers, stole the sound equipment, but we got everything back. The flood kept us from meeting, the fire put us out, but we never missed a worship,” Holliday said.

“We’ve come this far by faith. It’s better now than it was before. So we have endured almost 13 years, but we wasn’t wandering in the wilderness. We’ve been meeting, we’ve been worshipping, we’ve been praising, and we are still together” the pastor said.

He said the renovation of the church building has cost more than $200,000, but that obstacle was also overcome with the support of several entities, including other churches, the Southern Baptist Association and the Beaver Creek Association. Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Woodford, for example, donated its old sanctuary’s pews to the restoration effort.

Holliday said Bushy Pond Missionary Baptist Church in Norway also provided the use of its sanctuary when Turkey Branch needed space for, for example, funeral services. The church had also been renting the Town of Livingston’s White Building Center for its worship services, along with the newer Livingston Municipal Complex for special services. Both buildings are located on Savannah Highway in Livingston.

“I just believe that God is the author and finisher of our life, but when you treat people right, people will treat you right. The mayor of Livingston opened the doors that we had a place to worship. ….We just have to trust in the Lord,” Holliday said.

He said the rededication service on Aug. 20 was one that reverenced God and rededicated the building in service to the Lord.

“We have to go with what we have, but the doors are open for those who are outside the ark of safety. It is my calling to preach and teach the unadulterated word of God, but let them come. … The door of the church – not Turkey Branch, the church of Jesus Christ – is open. … We’re here at this Bethel spot that was a bush harbor in 1916. Now it’s 2023 and we’re still here,” Holliday said.

Longtime church members said they are happy and grateful to be able to move back into the renovated sanctuary.

Church Clerk Barbara Milhouse was baptized there at age 12. She and her family stayed up the road from the church, where she recalled attending Sunday school.

“My whole 65-year life has been here. I’ve known nothing else. This is home for me. … The love that I had for my church and church family didn’t change. As a matter of fact, it grew because it was always such a joy just to see a member outside of church because we didn’t see them every Sunday,” Milhouse said.

She continued, “We are a family church. I think everybody in here has some family ties with each other. When pastor came in, he became family with everybody. … It means so much to me in my heart to just know that we endured these years.”

Milhouse said she appreciated all the support the church has received in its restoration efforts.

She said the church will be doing cosmetic and other work later in the church, which includes a pastor’s study, restrooms, baptismal pool and fellowship hall.

“I just believe in my heart that anything that happens is predestined by God. All of the trials and tribulations that we’ve been through, we had to go through them just to get to this point. So, therefore, we’re going to rejoice in the rededication of this,” Milhouse said.

Her mother, Earthella, 87, has been attending the church since the early 1970s. Her membership on the pulpit aid committee is among her duties in the church.

“I enjoy it because when I came, the whole Milhouse family came. I’m not saying they followed me, but they came and joined Turkey Branch Baptist Church. I just enjoy singing, I enjoy people. I love to treat people right because if you treat people right, they’ll treat you right,” Earthella said.

She continued, “Oh, I am overjoyed. I am. We’ve just been praying.”

Trustee Leroy Jenkins said he joined Turkey Branch at age 15. He returned to South Carolina and his church after retiring and living in New Jersey for 50 years.

“I always supported Turkey Branch because this is my family church. When I retired and came back from New Jersey, I made God a promise that if he just let me finish building my house, then I will help him build his house,” Jenkins said.

“It happened. I stuck by that promise. God let me see this project finish. This wasn’t an easy journey, rebuilding this church. It was ups and downs. … We had good people to work with, straight-up people. We didn’t accomplish everything that we want to accomplish, but we got the major part of the job done enough where we can get back in here and praise God,” he said.

Trustee Betty Willis, Earthella’s sister-in-law, said it’s been a blessing to be able to move back into the church.

“I love it here. I love my pastor. I’m just overjoyed at being able to come back and worship here. I just feel like jumping up and running and up and down the aisle. That’s how good I feel. I just love it,” Willis said.

“I’m so happy that we’re back in this sanctuary once again. Hopefully and prayerfully, we will keep on growing stronger and stronger in this house of worship,” she said.

Longtime church member Emma Jamison said she didn’t have words to describe her feelings.

“I’ve been waiting for so long to feel what I feel. I always knew that God was going to bring us to this point. We just didn’t know when, but we trusted God. There’s been a lot of things happening over the years since the church burned, but I never lost faith in God,” Jamison said.

She continued, “Sometimes you get weary, but God will pick you back up and give you a little more strength and say, ‘Not yet.’ We waited on God, and I’m just so grateful. … It’s well with my soul right now because I know Turkey Branch has risen from the ashes.”

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

#lee-rev-content { margin:0 -5px; } #lee-rev-content h3 { font-family: inherit!important; font-weight: 700!important; border-left: 8px solid var(–lee-blox-link-color); text-indent: 7px; font-size: 24px!important; line-height: 24px; } #lee-rev-content .rc-provider { font-family: inherit!important; } #lee-rev-content h4 { line-height: 24px!important; font-family: “serif-ds”,Times,”Times New Roman”,serif!important; margin-top: 10px!important; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #lee-rev-content h3 { font-size: 18px!important; line-height: 18px; } } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article { clear: both; background-color: #fff; color: #222; background-position: bottom; background-repeat: no-repeat; padding: 15px 0 20px; margin-bottom: 40px; border-top: 4px solid rgba(0,0,0,.8); border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(0,0,0,.2); display: none; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article, #pu-email-form-daily-email-article p { font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, “Segoe UI”, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article h2 { font-size: 24px; margin: 15px 0 5px 0; font-family: “serif-ds”, Times, “Times New Roman”, serif; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .lead { margin-bottom: 5px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-desc { font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 5px; opacity: 0.7; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 30px 5px 30px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer { opacity: 0.5; margin-bottom: 0; line-height: 100%; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer a { color: #222; text-decoration: underline; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-hammer { border-bottom: 3px solid #222; opacity: .5; display: inline-block; padding: 0 10px 5px 10px; margin-bottom: -5px; font-size: 16px; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 0 5px 0; } } .grecaptcha-badge { visibility: hidden; }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>