Johnston County church goes back to the future
    September 9 2010 by submitted report

    In the face of a tough economy that’s stifling charitable giving, one Johnston County church is taking a page from its past to preserve its future.

    From 1936 to 1951, Thanksgiving Baptist Church in Selma held an annual Harvest Day celebration to generate funds for its ministries.

    It became a phenomenon which attracted hundreds of people each year from several states and garnered national attention, including a 1948 article in The Saturday Evening Post which said in part: “The people of Johnston County, North Carolina, save their best products to be sold at auction so the work of their church can go forward. Is this the cure for the growing indifference that threatens America’s rural churches? Thanksgiving Church stands white and clean in a hillside meadow in the gently rolling landscape of Johnston County in Central North Carolina. Johnston County is an agricultural county, and Thanksgiving, nine miles from the nearest town, is a Baptist church, the members of which are small farmers and their families.

    “But go to Thanksgiving on Harvest Day, the day in autumn when the little church holds its annual Lord’s Auction, and you will see something more virile than the dignity of age … If you arrive in the early afternoon of Harvest Day, shortly before the Lord’s Auction is due to begin, you may conclude that a small county fair is about to open on the church grounds.

    “Where did all these things come from and why are they here on the church grounds? They came from the farms of the members and friends of Thanksgiving Church. Since the crack of dawn, cars, trucks and wagons have been bringing them from every direction. They are here because these are the gifts of the people to their church — their gifts ‘to the Lord,’ as the forthright local phrase has it — and they have been assembled and put on display because they are now to be sold by the church at the annual Lord’s Auction, the event for which the other activities of the morning have been a preparation.

    “What has the Lord’s Acre Plan meant to the members of Thanksgiving Church — and to rural church members all over the South who have followed the plan? It has certainly meant more than just a practical way of raising money for the church. That it is practical is proved by the fact that no other money plan has ever worked half so well. But even more important, the Lord’s Acre Plan has given these people a genuinely happy comradeship and kinship with the other folks in their church who worked for the same cause. ...”

    On Oct. 9 — to stimulate financial giving and foster a renewed sense of community pride — Thanksgiving Baptist Church will hold its first Harvest Day in 59 years. Members promise food, fun and an auction. Find Thanksgiving Baptist Church at 6701 NC Highway 42, two miles east of the Buffalo Road intersection, near Clayton.

    Call Pastor Steve Reed at 965-3204 or e-mail
    9/9/2010 10:07:00 AM by submitted report | with 0 comments

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