Hobbs Chapel celebrates burning of mortgage

Saturday, November 4, 2006

By LINDA REDEFFER

Southeast Missourian

What began with a fire concluded with a burning.

On Nov. 26, 1992, the 100-year-old Hobbs Chapel United Methodist Church, 3024 State Highway 177, was destroyed by fire. The congregation worshipped for three years in the activity building while members made plans to build a new church.

In June 1996, Bishop Ann B. Scherer conducted a consecration service for the completed brick building.

Consecration, said Juanita Henley, chairwoman of Hobbs Chapel's administrative council, is a service that sets aside a building as being a sacred place.

On Oct. 22, the congregation commemorated the new debt-free status of the church with a mortgage-burning and dedication service.

"It was wonderful," Henley said.

Participating in the celebration Sunday were the Hobbs Chapel Puppets, the choir and special guest singer Dennis Browning. The altar was adorned with a quilt, handmade many years ago, with former church members' names embroidered on it.

Also on the altar were 65 candles representing the 65 members who had died within the past 10 years. As each name was read, a bell chimed.

Lunch followed the celebration ceremony, and the group reassembled in the sanctuary where Browning, who has often sung at Hobbs Chapel, dedicated special songs to certain people and shared his memories.

Henley said the future looks bright for expanding Hobbs Chapel's congregation, which merged in June 2005 with the congregation of Third Street United Methodist Church.

"Our education department has really been growing," Henley said. "Our people are putting extra effort into it and coming up with good growth in this area."

The congregation's youth program is also active.

"The kids have a lot of enthusiasm," she said. "They have plans for things they want for the future."

Henley said the congregation will always be thankful for the East County Fire Department, other churches and members of the community for their generosity following the 1992 fire.

"It was through their support at our time of need that gave us the vision of what we have become today -- a warm and friendly church," she said. "And we will continue to practice the teaching, 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me.'"

lredeffer@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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