At a time when so many people and businesses are borrowing money, a church in Elyria is debt free.
The Second Baptist Church, 427 Chapman Lane, held a “Mortgage Burning Ceremony” on February 27 as part of its weekly service. The church took out a $1.3 million loan in the early 2000s to build an addition but was able to repay it a year early, Reverend Carl Perry Small said.
“We’re done,” Small said, “The deed now rests with God’s people who are stewards of their sanctuary.”
The project began with the purchase of two parcels of land known as Keys Property, where what is known as Fellowship Hall was built. The addition includes classrooms and meeting rooms, a full kitchen, men’s and women’s restrooms, and a lounge.
In 2005, Fellowship Hall opened on February 26 with a gala that drew 400 attendees.
“We use it for education. We have a GED class. We offer exercise classes, we have quilting classes, and we use it for after-school programs as well as fraternity, like dinner parties and things of that nature,” Small said.
Second Baptist, which has about 260 members, celebrates its 89th year of existence. This anniversary was therefore incorporated into the mortgage cremation ceremony.
The Reverend Clifford L. Mayes, pastor of the Macedonian Baptist Church in Toledo, delivered the guest sermon before the mortgage fire. He congratulated the church on its 89th year of existence.
“As we look back at 89 years, we still have a lot of work to do moving forward,” Mayes reminded the congregation in a fiery sermon.
The service included a lot of singing and music. Additionally, there was a video presentation in which longtime Second Baptist members recounted their memories of the church.
Winifred Kennard was one of the video presenters. Kennard told the congregation that she suffered a near-death experience in 2020 and survived in part because of the outpouring of support she received from church members.
“They gathered around me. Supported me and prayed for me,” Kennard said.
She also reminded the congregation that on this day they were celebrating the payback of the brick and mortar expansion of the church, the essential essence of Second Baptist is much more than just a physical structure.
“It’s not in the building,” she said. “It’s in the people around you.”