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Doolittle Mills church celebrating centennial this week

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Revival services begin today. Homecoming festivities Sunday.

By Janet Robb

DOOLITTLE MILLS - Over the years Bethel Christian Church has gone through many changes. This year is no different as the congregation celebrates its centennial.

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In 1909, the Doolittle Mills church building, already in use by a church congregation, was purchased from Jordan Williams in Crawford County and moved and rebuilt on a half acre of land donated by John Roberson. According to an early history of the church, all of the labor was donated and more land was donated by Iola Ransom and Ronnie Wright.

A basement was built in 1966 along with a vestibule, new chimney and furnace. Later two classrooms were built, indoor restrooms added along with a suspended ceiling and central air.

In 1988-89, the church's interior was renovated with carpeting, paneling, new furnace and padding on the pews. In 1991, the congregation started having morning church services instead of waiting until Sunday evenings.

Church member David Lynch said the church replaced pews and upholstery recently and, last year, received an additional two acres of ground. "We got it for a possible shelter house or addition to the church," he said. The church also renovated the exterior with a new roof and siding.

Tom Nixon, pastor of Bethel Christian for the last six years, said he is honored to be a part of the church's 100th celebration, which includes revival services starting today at 6 p.m. and continuing through Friday with homecoming services Sunday.

There were several ideas on what the church could do to make this year's revival special, Nixon said. After tossing around several ideas, church members decided to invite former pastors back to speak during revival services instead of only having one speaker for the week.

Today Alfred Helms, pastor of Parkview Christian Church in Plainville, will present the message with Albert Madden, who was a former pastor's son at Bethel Christian and current pastor at Nicholson Valley Christian Church, speaking Tuesday; Rick Utz, pastor of Northwest Christian Church in DePauw, Wednesday; Ray Howard, pastor at Troy Christian Church, Thursday and Larry Martin, pastor at Westview Christian Church in Albany, Ky., Friday.

Other former pastors include Thomas Stallings, William Kellems, William Suddrath, John Goldman, Lawrence Elshoff, Loren Sweeney, Collis Critchfield, Cleon Wright, Sam Allen, Wayne Jenkins, Barry Ferguson, Jim Phillips, Robert DeWerff and Elmer Lagenour.

Displays of different revivals will be available for the public to view during services, Nixon said.

Sunday's centennial celebration starts with Sunday school at 8:30 a.m., followed by worship at 9:30 and a carry-in meal at 11 a.m.

A history program and hymn sing begins at noon. The hymn sing features the Dusty Roads Gospel Group, Emmett Wiseman and anyone else who would like to join in.

"This will be a special homecoming," Nixon said, adding he'll probably bring his guitar to join in. The church has left a legacy, he said, adding that they will continue carrying on this legacy and preaching the word.