Rev. Paul Perry, pastor, and members of Coax Baptist Church invite formers and friends to join them as they celebrate the churchs 131st anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 6. Brother Neil Powers will bring the message during the morning worship service at 10:15 a.m.
Powers grew up in Coax Baptist Church, and his wife Mei grew up in Vietnam. Neil, Mei, Jonathan, and Abigail Powers recently returned from a two-month mission trip to Southeast Asia. They will provide special music also.
Music leaders, Carl and Melissa Harwell came to the church in 1999 and will lead the congregation in some of the old favorites. Following the morning worship service, the celebration will continue with dinner on the grounds.
Coax Baptist Church was organized in 1888 with 22 charter members: T.J. Howington, S.M. Thorne, W.M. Ferguson, Abe Redfield, Martha Howington, Lenora Ferguson, Julia Lamert, Maggie Thorne, and Emma Redfield from Lone Cedar Baptist Church and Pros Mongomery, Guice McCalister, Reginnia Garner, and Estrie Howington, B.M. Scriber, Rose Scriber, Mary Scriber, L.J. Baum, Lenora Baum, D.F. Wiggins, S.K. Wiggins, W.F. Wiggins, and L. Claude Wiggins by letter or statement. In 1898 Thomas J. Howington, a charter member of the church, donated the property where the church now sits.
The founding pastor was W.W. Nash. From the time of the organization of Coax Baptist Church in 1888 until 1920, the only pastor noted is Nash. After his death in 1897, no record of a pastor has been found. Alanson Wood Moore preached at least one Sunday, and records indicate that he performed a number of funerals including that of Thomas Howington in the early 1900s. In 1920, J.H. Keys became pastor. At the time he resigned from the church in 1937, it was noted in the church records that he had been pastor for 17 years. However, church records are not available between 1897 and March 11, 1924. Other pastors of the church include R. E. Weeks, Enon Boyette, C.W. Smith, T.G. Polk, W.L. Rawls, Allen Davis, Walter Braswell, Clark Anthony, Ray Cargle, Alvin Littleton, John Allen, Denver Smith, Lewis Clark (interim), Doyle Adams, Neil Powers (interim), and Perry. In some old obituaries from the 1920s and 30s, J.C. Dove is listed as the pastor.
A bell has stood in front of the church since before 1917. In 1988, the oldest member, Etta “Granny Rat” Ratcliff, who was born May 23, 1894, and who was the widow of Deacon Walter W. Ratcliff, recalled that the church bell was in use as early as 1917 when she first moved to Coax community. The bell was rung to summon members of the community when there was a death, serious illness, house fire or other emergency situation. All able-bodied men answered the toll of the bell.