Siam Baptist Church celebrates 150th anniversary, homecoming
Published 9:35 am Friday, October 13, 2023
Siam Baptist Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary with homecoming events this weekend.
At 6 o’clock this evening (Oct. 14) members will gather around a fire pit and enjoy hotdogs, desserts, cornhole and old friends sharing memories.
A homecoming service will be held Sunday at 10:45 a.m. with former pastor Adam Polk preaching. Special music will be presented by current and former members of the church.
Siam Baptist is also celebrating its new pastor, the Rev. Brian Holloway.
Siam’s first pastor was John Leonard Bowers, who was born locally in 1830, and was the namesake of his grandfather, Elder J.L. Bowers, who was a pioneer Baptist preacher in North Carolina.
Construction on the present church building was begun in 1933. The building committee consisted of E.A. Morrell, S.B. Randolph, L.H. Chambers, O.F. White, and G.B. Hardin. The last service was held in the old building on June 2, 1933. Services were held in the Siam School while a new building was being constructed.
River rock, a featured part of the building, came from “across the river.” These rocks had been screened from sand by a company hauling sand from that area. According to a church history researched and written by the late Dan Crowe, a former member of the church, the company was glad to have rocks hauled off and the church had to make no payment for them.
The limestone rock which adorns the building came from Lynn Mountain. Mostly, they came from the farms of Aunt Carr Allen and Bill Allen. Heavy timber from the building was hauled from the sawmill of Thad Whitehead in Tiger Valley.
When completed, the building was a two-story structure with a seating capacity of 450 on the second floor.
The building when completed and fully equipped cost $15,000. When it was dedicated to the Lord on Oct.11, 1936, the church was free of debt.
Uncle Andy Nave, in an earlier history of the church said, “The money to pay for the building was made possible because the people began to render unto the Lord a part of that which he had blessed them.”
In the early 1950s there were signs that the church building was growing too small for its membership. In response the church under the leadership of the Rev. W.R. Allen started a building fund in October 1950. The building committee was instructed to make a preliminary study of needed education space and to recommend a building plan for the church.
On Feb. 23, 1964, plans were accepted for the construction of a new educational building. Prior to starting construction on the addition, a new lighting system was installed in the old building, the auditorium was re-decorated, a larger choir loft was made, cushioned seats replaced the wooden seats, and the floor in the choir and the rooms on either side were carpeted. The basement was made into a large fellowship hall, modern kitchen, furnace room and storage room.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new educational addition was held June 28, 1964, which consisted of a brick veneer structure. The new unit consisted of 35 classrooms, a study for the pastor, two offices, a supply room, storage and restrooms, a library, baptistry, and a carport.
Through the years, a number of pastors have served the church, including the Rev. Jack Roddy, the present Director of Missions for the Watauga Association of Baptists.
One of the best known members of the congregation has been Miss Olive Allen, who served for many years with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board. She served in Thailand and in Vietnam.
The church has a colorful history and from its beginning has been dedicated to serving the Lord and spreading the gospel.
The public is invited to attend the homecoming service.