By MARK MCGEE
When the elders of the Fairlane Church of Christ bought 16 acres of land in Fairlane Estates, they had a long-term plan for the church.
For the past several Sundays, Minister Lance Bennett, in his fifth year at Fairlane, has reminded the congregation October 1 was the 50th anniversary celebration for the Fairlane Church of Christ.
“The goal is to honor our past and be thankful for what God is doing in our present and what He will be doing in our future,” Bennett said. “He has been faithful to us in the past. He is faithful to us in the present and we pray He will be faithful to us in the future.
“I am thankful for the legacy of Fairlane. We are a church of family and faith. But it is also challenging because we are an established church in terms of new ministries. We are a family church, which is great, but we want to be a more community-focused church as well. That is our future.”
The elders who made those decisions in the 1970s left the earth long before this celebration. Also gone is Paul Matthews who had been the minister when the church was known as Main Street Church of Christ.
He made the transition to the new building after it was completed in 1973 preaching in a sanctuary with padded pews and large brass chandeliers helping to light the interior.
The Main Street building and land was purchased for $65,000 for the City of Shelbyville’s Urban Renewal project. The land on Dow Drive was purchased for $16,000. Church bonds financed the $500,000 building project.
Many of those who have been in the pulpit through those 50 years will be part of the services Sunday. Several of the former youth ministers also participated.
The service began at 9 a.m. with a call to worship by Bennett.
Dennis Simmons, a former song leader for the church, was back.
Tommy Hodges, a former elder, gave the opening prayer. Josh Schwartz, a former youth minister, read Scripture which was followed by Geoff Giesmann, Fairlane minister from 2004-15.
Presiding over communion was Russ Countess, youth minister from 1991 to 2007 and later family minister.
Prayer for the sick was given by Jason Bobo. Michael Rector, the current youth minister and song leader, led a closing song followed by former elder Dr. Buddy Koonce with a closing prayer.
Teachers for Bible School, which followed the service, was Hugh Fulford, minister from 1976 through 1984 and Steve Baggett, a former youth minister.
Ed Boggess, minister from 1999 to 2004, was not available. Randell Jernigan, who served as minister form 1984-1998, passed away on January 1, 2004.
“We announced the date nine months ago to allow everyone to make plans for October 1,” Bennett said. “No one we asked told us no.”
A catered lunch by Rowdy Ranch and the opening of a time capsule completed the festivities.
“It has been nine months to a year of planning,” Bennett said. “The planning committee met five or six times to discuss the various aspects of it.”
Members of the planning committee were David Parker, Bennett, Carolyn Jones, Vaughn Whitman, Barbara Morgan. Joan Kelton and Shane Edwards.
“We are thinking we will have 300 to 400 people,” Bennett said. “It is going to be a celebration of all aspects – our past, present and future.”