The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

September 29, 2012

Lester Baptist to celebrate homecoming

— Lester Baptist Church will celebrate its homecoming Sunday as it observes its 116th anniversary.

A regular Sunday school service begins 10 a.m., followed by morning worship service at 11 a.m. Dinner will follow. Guest speaker is Jimmie Jones from Nimitz Baptist Church.

The church is located at 2190 Lester Highway (W.Va. 54), Lester. Church officials say it stands as an example of a congregation with the biblical attitude expressed in Nehemiah 4:6 — “For the people had a mind to work.”

An April 28, 1886, deed on file at the Raleigh County Courthouse notes the property was donated for a place of worship. The building constructed on the property was used for a number of years by four separate groups, The Missionary Baptist Church, Primitive Baptist Church, German Baptist Church (or Church of the Brethren), and the Disciples of Christ (or Church of Christ), each conducting services on Sunday each month.

Over a period of years, one by one, three withdrew from this arrangement and established their own individual churches elsewhere, leaving only the Missionary Baptist.

But as with all growth, the building had become in constant need of repair, and a search began for a new location to allow for expansion. The congregation searched and saved toward this goal for quite some time. In January 1976, the efforts were rewarded when the church obtained a 6-acre tract that required considerable labor and money to clear, grade and prepare it for construction.

On Nov. 1, 1978, ground was broken and construction began in January 1979. After obtaining a $40,000 loan, the building was roofed and ready for interior work. This required much more labor and money before the move from the old building would be possible. Again the group began an intense drive for funds and laborers. Through sacrificial giving and diligent work of faithful members, they were privileged to have their first service in the new building Aug. 11, 1979.

The group continued to labor and give. The church was bricked as the funds became available. The church is debt-free — a miracle of His grace and to Him belongs all the thanks and praise, officials say. In April 1984, a service was held to officially burn the mortgage, five years and four months after acquiring the loan.

The current pastor, Brian McAlister, has been at the church just a little over a year. Originally from South Carolina, he served as pastor of Rhodell Community Baptist and in missionary work under BETA ministry.

For more information about Lester Baptist Church, call 304-934-6994.