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GRANITE SHOALS — The members of First Baptist Church of Granite Shoals used little more than cedar poles, persimmon leaves and dried brush to erect their first worship center, known as a “brush arbor,” nearly 50 years ago in a pasture just off Bel Aire Street.

“When we came up here in 1963, I came to the brush arbor,” said 96-year-old Evelyn Turner, a Granite Shoals resident. “It was nice to have a place I could stop and go to church for the Lord on a Sunday morning.”

The so-called brush arbor was eventually replaced by a sanctuary, a fellowship hall, offices and much more at the church’s current location, 505 S. Phillips Ranch Road. Prior to becoming the city of Granite Shoals, the area was known as the Sherwood Shores development.[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: 50th anniversary celebration for First Baptist Church of Granite Shoals
WHERE: 505 S. Phillips Ranch Road in Granite Shoals
WHEN: Sept. 29 with 9:45 a.m. Sunday School; 11 a.m. worship; 12:30 p.m. lunch; and afternoon of worship, music, speakers[/box]

Turner is among hundreds of past and present congregation members scheduled to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the church Sept. 29.

Plans for the event include a display of a re-created brush arbor structure in the sanctuary, speakers, music and worship services.

“The whole day is going to be about glorifying God. The significance of the brush arbor is a remembrance of where God has taken us and from that point,” the Rev. Randy Taylor said. “The original members have sacrificed so much to get us to the point that we are here. We will recognize them and remember their efforts.”

Three of seven past pastors and the children of the founding pastor, Brother J.D. Benson, are expected to attend.

“There is a very strong sense of family. The people are very united,” said Taylor, who has been with the church for four years. “We continue to put God first, and, with that, it has a big impact on the community.”

Programs and activities over the years included establishing an Hispanic mission church and creating a comprehensive and educational children’s church program.

Congregation member Louise Bumpass first attended the church in October 1964. She remembers during one period that the church seating was comprised of sawhorses and wooden planks. She joined and volunteered and eventually became secretary and served in that capacity for 30 years.

During that time, she said she witnessed numerous fundraisers, the construction of a new fellowship hall, a children’s youth room, a library, a kitchen, Sunday school rooms, renovations of facilities, upgrades to the sanctuary, storm damage and repairs.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she said. “This is my home. Without it, I would be lost.”

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Congregation members of First Baptist Church of Granite Shoals include Evelyn Turner (front left), Louise Bumpass (past church secretary), Earl Broyles (back left), Wayne Hulbert and Pastor Randy Taylor. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

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First Baptist Church of Granite Shoals Pastor Randy Taylor (right) and Earl Broyles discuss the potential location of the re-created ‘brush arbor’ structure first used by congregation members 50 years ago to conduct worship service in a pasture on Bel Aire Street in what was then the Sherwood Shores development and is now the city of Granite Shoals. Staff photo by Connie Swinney

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