SPRINGCREEK TOWNSHIP — For one church, they are more than a congregation of people. They are a family, and they have been for 175 years.
“We’re a family,” Melva Peterson, assistant pastor of Springcreek Baptist Church, said. Springcreek Baptist Church is celebrating its 175th anniversary at special worship service on Aug. 30 at 10:30 a.m. ABC Executive Minister the Rev. Dr. Larry Swain will be presenting the congregation with a certificate from the American Baptist Historical Society.
“The church is excited,” Peterson said.
Springcreek Baptist Church began as a country congregation where they met in homes as the Salem Church. The congregation, made up of pioneer families from the area as well as Piqua residents, later built a log cabin on Suber Road.
“It used to be on Suber Road, up by the Spring Creek,” Peterson said. “The original building was moved here, although this is not the original building.”
By 1840, the congregation had grown to the point where Piqua residents formed their own church, Piqua Baptist Church, in town and the country residents formed Springcreek Baptist Church. John Hetzler donated land on Miami-Shelby Road to the members of the Springcreek Baptist Church in 1867, which is where the church continues to hold services.
Peterson and her husband, the Rev. Pastor Frederick Peterson, have been with Springcreek Baptist Church for 12 years, and they are the longest-remaining pastors that the church has seen. Peterson and her husband were there at the church for the 165th anniversary.
“We got here, and we fell in love with these people,” Peterson said.
What has kept them, and others, connected with this church is a strong sense of family and community felt within the congregation. One family involved in the church goes back three generations.
“We had four generations until her mother died,” Peterson said. “And her parents actually brought them here. Generally, if you get a long-term family with several generations, they tend to stay.”
For being a small church, Peterson said that they have been blessed with members and attendees who are newborns all the way up to their oldest member, who recently turned 81. That diversity in age in the church is stable almost every Sunday, Peterson said.
“I think we’re blessed because most small churches either have a lot of really elderly people or they have middle-aged and elderly,” Peterson said. “They’re not blessed with the young children. And we don’t have a lot of them, but we have them.” Springcreek Baptist Church has a variety of children and young adults in attendance, including newborns up to two girls who are going to be seniors in high school this year.
“I think that’s something that even some of the larger churches … strive to get the younger people, and so far, we’ve been blessed to have just real nice blend,” Peterson said. “Everybody in between.”
Within the 20 to 30 people who attend on Sunday mornings, there is also a mix of farmers and city residents of Troy, Piqua, Huber Heights, and Fairborn.
“It’s a family environment,” Peterson said. “Most of the rest of the congregation that come are related to someone else that’s here.”
If members are not related to one another by blood, they still feel related to one another by their faith.
“We operate and function more as a family than we do as a church body,” Peterson said. “Because we are a small congregation, our lives are truly intertwined.” Their closeness has allowed them to become emotionally invested in each other’s lives like a large family would be.
“When one of hurts, we all hurt,” Peterson said. “When one of us grieves, we all grieve. We lost a deacon two years ago, and it crushed the church … . It affected all of us.”
Peterson explained that her and her husband’s son Cody comes from Fairborn each Sunday to attend church and is still active in church. According to Peterson, he says “he had lots of grandparents” thanks to the church.
“Now he acts like a big brother to the others,” Peterson said.
Springcreek Baptist Church supports missions with American Baptist, including Operation Shoebox. They also do vacation Bible school every year. This past Christmas, Springcreek Baptist Church supported Toys for Tots.
As far as Peterson’s and other members favorite activity with the church, Peterson mentioned it would be their Christmas program each year that the children of the church have taken over.
“Our children are our greatest commodity,” Peterson said.
Springcreek Baptist Church is inviting all former members and anyone else who would like to learn more about their church to come and help them celebrate this milestone in their congregation’s history on Aug. 30 at 10:30 a.m. The church is located at 15333 E. Miami Shelby Road in Piqua.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall