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With new church, Deer Creek Baptist turns new page on congregation's 187 years of history
A new house of prayer built on an ages-old foundation of faith stirred with joyful hearts Sunday as members of Deer Creek Baptist Church offered thanks to God, one another and their congregation's pioneer founders.
The Deer Creek congregation is one of the area's oldest, with roots traceable to the earliest days of the county, said Stan Coy of Grandview, a historian who examined the church's records and offered his own retrospective Sunday.
"Those were not only times of hardship but times of faith," Coy said while recalling the struggles of early church-goers who had to travel by foot or buggy across rough dirt roads to reach services.
Organized in 1821 with 16 members, the church first met in local homes and later at two schoolhouses. The church building constructed along a roadway that later became known as Indiana 37 served as a spiritual home for the congregation for more than a century. But after several renovations and enlargements over the decades, the church was showing its years.
Since the congregation was outgrowing the building, leaders decided to rebuild in the same location.
Demolition began in September and employees of J & L Construction worked through fall and winter into spring to finish the project.
The new church seats more than twice the number of worshippers as one it replaced and includes an enlarged basement used for church activities. But the new structure, designed by Renaissance Design Build of Sellersburg, still has much of the same look as the previous sanctuary. It also supports the same steeple and historic bell that called members to prayer for decades.
"But it's so well insulated we can't hear the bell from inside the church any more," said Elliott Lynch, a member of the building committee and chairman of the congregation's deacon board. "In the old church, everyone could hear the bell ringing."
Portions of stained glass from the old church's windows were incorporated into new Gothic windows as well as a stained-glass cross in the front of the sanctuary first seen by members Sunday.
Sunday's service included hymns and recognition of those who helped lead the building program, including representatives of contractors and family members of congregation leaders who died while the building program was under way.
An open house after the service drew visitors through the afternoon.