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Putnam County Episcopal church marks 50th anniversary milestone

Jan. 27, 2013 @ 09:30 PM

HURRICANE -- Being with the congregation of St. Timothy's-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church on Sunday, Jan. 20, was an experience of devotion and delight. There was an air of excitement and gratitude from beginning to end, from the first spoken word to the last.

Visitors, guests, lay leaders, pastoral leaders and the Rector of the congregation displayed a sense of optimism, gratitude and expectation as they observed the 50th anniversary of the church. The Holy Eucharist was observed according to the "Book of Common Prayer of 1928," and the way it was often done in the early days of this significant Putnam County church.

Celebrants for the service were the pastor, The Rev. Cheryl Ann Winter and The Rev. William B. Fulks. Both reminded the congregation of how things were in the early part of the 50 years being celebrated. The title of Winter's sermon was, "Presentation of St. Timothy's Beginnings."

Many who lived in Hurricane and the county will remember many names of the founding members of 50 years ago which included Lib and Carroll Fletcher, L.L. Wilson, Bayard and Charlotte Cutlip, Linda and John Wilson, Lib and Dana Embleton, Johanne and Richard Paff, Ann and John Slaughter, Sally and Jim Holliday, Alice Cook, John Embleton, Virginia and Harry Sovine, Ginny and Fred Legg, Lettie Musgrave, Betsy and Bob Rea and Lucile, Laura and Jackie Dudley.

"It is because of them and those who joined them that we are here today," Winter said.

After lunch, all who were present met for a very special event that came as a surprise to many and especially to one person.

Winter called the assembled group together with these words: "Ladies and gentlemen, this area of our facility we call the Welcome Center. It is through the red doors on either side that most people enter and are welcomed. It is also the space in which we baptize those who are brought by parents and godparents, and those who come out of their own desire and they become a part of the Family of God through the waters of baptism and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a community of faith, we welcome our new brothers and sisters in Christ right here in this space.

"One of the things I love about the Episcopal Church and about St. Timothy's in particular is that it is indeed a place of welcome. Whoever you are, wherever you find yourself in your life's journey and faith journey, you are welcome here.

"I truly believe that the spirit of welcome and hospitality is in the DNA of St. Timothy's. And that DNA comes from our forbearers. During the worship service, you heard Bishop Campbell's account of the beginnings of this congregation back in 1963. It is clear in his history and the writings and recollections of others that this congregation was established and grew because people opened their homes, their hearts, and their arms -- long before there were red doors to open -- and invited and welcomed people into this community of faith.

"Would Sally Holliday and her family please come forward?

"Sally, it is my great pleasure on this occasion, on behalf of the whole congregation of St. Timothy's, to announce that the Welcome Center of St. Timothy's will be dedicated by prayer in thanksgiving to your parents, Carroll and Elizabeth 'Lib' Fletcher for their generosity and to you, Sally Fletcher Holliday, for your vision."

Sally Holliday, known throughout Putnam County, West Virginia and beyond for her gift of leadership and public service was deeply touched by all this. A humble person who seeks to serve rather than be served was joined by her husband Judge Jim Holliday, daughter Dr. Betsy Rogan and sons Andy and John "Doc" Holliday, grandchildren and other family members for this significant announcement.

This was followed by special music in the church sanctuary and the final benediction for the day.

Other special dates celebrating 50 years of ministry are scheduled for May 4-5, Aug. 16, and Nov. 2-3. You are invited to attend.