By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray
One thing a church with an aging congregation needs is a way for its parishioners to get into the building and that would be with an elevator that anyone could fit in.
Rev. Howard Carter, pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church for only seven years said the church needed an elevator very badly. He said, “We need this elevator so that our seniors can get to church. I need it myself. We have places throughout the church where you must climb stairs, but now we have an elevator that’s big enough to put a casket in.”
Rev. Carter sad the development and building of the elevator has been a long journey for the church. It is planned to be installed by January 2017 and its dedication is in February 2017. He said, “I don’t want to be the first to ride in it. I’ll be nice to them.”
Goldi Richards, a 70-plus member of St. Paul, is a member of the Missionary Board, the Sunday School, plays the piano for the Male Chorus, a member of the Missionary Society and BTU. She is also considered the oldest member of the church with her mother being a charter member. Richards is the chairperson of the Elevator Committee. Other members of the Committee are James Word, Clyde Mullins and Cheryl Persons. One of the Committee members passed away, but left a donation in his will for the elevator.
Members of the committee had the opportunity to visit other churches that had elevators installed. The committee hoped the tours would assist them in determining the best size, design and type of elevator for St. Paul Church. The committee was very impressed by what they saw at the other churches, which was useful in selecting the manufacturer said Richards.
The low-rise hydraulic elevators they selected will be able to transfer the aging population of the church from each floor and is wide enough to hold a casket. Although Richards would not reveal the cost of constructing the elevator, she would say that it “cost a bit much.” Members of the church pledged $25 per month to help pay for it in addition to participating in $100, $500 and $1,000 events to defray the cost of the construction.
Richards said the entire congregation is anticipating its completion. She said, “Our theme is Unless the Lord Builds the House, the Builder Labors in Vain. Psalm 27:1” St. Paul has been celebrating for the past year its anniversary titled, “100 Year Celebration” with its General Chairperson being Kathy Malone.
Just a few of the events the church participated in this past year included on March 27 a kickoff of the 50 to 70-year-old member’s celebration; August 13, a banquet at Marquette Pavilion; August 14, church services that honored all the activists and the history of St. Paul with former members that came from all over the country; On August 19, a Choir Reunion and Fish Fry Day, was held; August 20 was a visit to St. Paul’s previous site, located at 1938 Adams St., behind Christian Valley Church.