100 Year Celebration And Homecoming

River Church of Christ, Saturday, August 9, 2008

Wanetta Conner

The Lord’s church had its beginning on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, and it was not long before the persecution of Christians began and the church spread to various places around the world. The Christians went everywhere preaching the word. 

A congregation of the Lord’s church started meeting in Upshur County, West Virginia, about 1880 when a preacher of the church of Christ held a tent meeting in the yard of Lavander Alexander Mayo’s home near the Middlefork River. Lavander Alexander Mayo was the first member of the new congregation. Lavander and several members of his family and several members of the community were baptized. They worshipped in the homes of the members until a new building was constructed in 1906, located close to the Middlefork River on property donated by James K. Regester and his wife, Susan Regester. This congregation is now known as the River church of Christ. The original families mentioned on some of the first records included the following: James K. Regester, John T. L. Suder, David Thomas Regester, L. A. Mayo, D. S. Campbell, and J. D. Thacker. These, along with other families, began meeting in the newly constructed building. The original weatherboard building was 20 ft wide by 30 ft. long with an old potbelly stove in the center of the room to provide heat, and oil lamps for lighting. 

It is unknown how many of the early men of the congregation were Gospel preachers. Records include the following: David Thomas Regester, John T. L. Suder, Lavander Mayo, James K. Regester, David Campbell Everson, Francis C. Shockey, and James B. Everson. Various families continued meeting at this rural church building up through 1950 with many individuals being baptized. Around 1950, the building was in disrepair. Congregations from around Parkersburg, WV, came and held a Gospel Meeting and donated money for repairs to the building. Brother Adam Ward and his wife, Hatti Mae, came to work with the church. Brother Ward was a great encouragement to this small congregation and was the located preacher for approximately 1-2 years. During the early 1950’s, the River church had seven members, Adam & Hattie Ward, Martha Everson, Pauline West, Garry Regester, Dorsey Bloom, and Helen Hornbeck Suder. In the late 1950’s into early 1960’s, there were rarely men present except on holidays, yet, the church continued throughout this time. Several Christian women, Annie Regester, Pauline West, Rosie Nitz, and Murl Williams Nitz continued to meet for worship at the building and held services there. If Christian men were present, they gladly turned the leadership of the service over to the men. 

After these years with very few men present, a gospel meeting was held, and three young men were baptized, and a Christian man was restored to the church. These men began leading the services of the church and have been instrumental in continuing the Lord’s church at the River. During the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s brethren from Belington, Phillipi and Buckhannon helped by conducting mid-week services at the River church on Thursday night. Some of the men who have helped with services were Albert Farley, Warren Kenney, Roy Pratt, Charles Jones, Jim Shady, Ernie Daugherty, Paul Kelly, and many others. This small country congregation throughout the years has converted more than 37 individuals since 1950. It is unknown how many were converted during the first 50 years the church was meeting at this location. Elders, deacons, preachers, and teachers have come from families that attended at the River church of Christ. This church has been in existence for over 100 years and has influenced many individuals, and exposed many communities and families to the gospel of Christ.

Currently, the River church has different speakers each Sunday morning from area congregations. These speakers include Jim Wise, Scott Davis, Larry Lallance, and Mark Rennix. The Wednesday Adult class is also taught by various men: Jim Wise, Larry Lallance, and Garry Regester. The current attendance averages about 38 each Sunday morning. 

Throughout the years, various preachers have held gospel meetings at the River church: Warren Kenney, Albert Farley, Emmanuel Daugherty, Roy Pratt, Mark Weaver, Charles Barrett, Garry Regester, Charles Whitt, Scott Davis, Darrel Toothman, Jeff Wyeth, Mike Phillips, John Board, Bruce Daugherty, Dennis Moss, Joe Richards, Russell Everson, Adam Ward, Eugene Carroll, J. D. Conley, Brent Gallagher, Skip Andrews, and others whose names may have been inadvertently omitted.

Vacation Bible School was first conducted by Eugene Carroll in 1984 and has been continued by Bob Crawford. Eugene Carroll’s wife, Zola Carrol, has attended every VBS, teaching many of the children in the community and touching the lives of many families for the past 24 years. VBS at the River church has been a highlight for many children. Some of the facts that are generally unheard of for other congregations are that the VBS typically exceeds attendance over 100 on Friday. The VBS is always the last full week of June. This date is known to the community and is reserved for the River church of Christ VBS. In June 2008, Thursday attendance was 99 and Friday was 108.

From a humble beginning, this congregation has spanned in excess of 100 years. In celebration of this milestone, a homecoming is planned on Saturday, August 9, beginning at 10 a.m. with morning speakers, a covered dish lunch at 12 noon, and an afternoon of singing, reminiscing and praising God. 

Beginning on Sunday, August 10-14, Emmanuel Daugherty will be speaking at the Gospel Meeting, Sunday, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., and Monday through Thursday at 7 p.m. Please join us in celebrating the 100-year anniversary at the building on the Middlefork River - River church of Christ, on Saturday, August 9, beginning at 10 a.m. and the meeting beginning on Sunday, August 10, at 10 a.m. (Information for this article came from the writing of Charles B. Lanham, and from Garry and Sylvia Regester.)

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