DORA – Not long after Pastor James Kelley became pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church in March 1995, they began thinking about building a new church.
“This church always desired to have their own place,” Kelley said.
The Dora church decided they wanted to build a new sanctuary of their own, so they borrowed money and broke ground in 1998. The trustees who signed the note for the loan was Richard Crawford, Wesley Mae Williams, Geraldine Williams, and Leroy Drake. The original loan was for $142,124.73.
“We marched into (the new) church on December 6, 1998,” Kelley said. When asked if there were lean years where they weren’t sure they could make the payments, Reverend Kelly said no, but Crawford, who is the finance chairman, was quick to disagree. “I worried about it,” he said with a smile.
This Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m., the church will have a mortgage-burning celebration. They will have a picnic before that ceremony.
Some people didn’t have faith and were against borrowing money to build the new church, according to Kelley. “We knew what we wanted to do,” Kelley said. “The faithful stayed with me on it, and the faithful paid for it.
When the church decided to build, they had to incorporate. The three original board members include James Kelley, Richard Crawford, and Hillard Gardner.
Rising Star has just over 100 members, and they didn’t do fundraisers or other activities to raise money for the church, according to Kelley.
“We didn’t kill no chickens or fish, and we didn’t get out there with no buckets,” Kelley said with a grin. They trusted God, and as the Good Book says, find able men and put it in their hands, according to Kelley. “I put it in his hands,” pointing to Crawford.
When Rising Star Baptist Church first organized, in December 1902, there was another church in the community, so they swapped Sundays. The Union Methodist Church had service one Sunday, and Rising Star had church the next, according to Kelley.
Now the church meets every Sunday with Sunday school at 10 a.m. and worship service at 11 a.m. They have a choir, and it’s the best choir in this area, according to Kelley.
Reverend Kelley celebrates his 25th anniversary at the church in March 2020.