Consecration and dedication service marks joyous chapter in years-long journey following 2016 fire

Congregation members, volunteers from dozens of institutions filled the Antioch Baptist Church sanctuary on Sunday, June 23 for an afternoon consecration and dedication service for the new church building.

Guest pastors, volunteers and church members shared their feelings of happiness through special musical performances and Scripture readings that reflected the ancient tradition of dedicating a church building and the mission of the members of the church — to spread God's word. 

Marla Frame and Helen Linnenburger performed a piano/organ duet as video produced by Joe Laratta and Rajah Maples was displayed. Rev. Jack Emmite, pastor of Antioch Baptist, recognized the volunteers, donors and others who provided support to the construction of the new church building that is about three times the size of the former structure. He said there are special touches throughout the church, like stained glass windows crafted by Bonnie Stewart and a large illuminated wooden cross above the baptistry made by Music Director Dan Dehner.

Rev. Bob Craig, pastor of Providence Baptist Church and volunteer, shared the opening prayer and read from Psalm 122. Deacon Jim Frame read from 2. Chronicles Chapter 2. Pamela Wilde, Jenny Manzke and Dehner performed songs during the celebration. 

Dr. David Pelletier recognized the long heritage of consecrating churches, stressing that the day's festivities marked a “double dedication.”

“We're here first of all to dedicate this building to the Lord and everything it,” he said. “But we're also here to dedicate this congregation to serving the Lord and to using all those resources to make the Gospel of Jesus go out, not only to our community, but to many parts of the world. That's the great call of Christ, called the Great Commission.”

Rev. Al Groner, director of Missions for Bethel Baptist Association and volunteer chairman, recognized members of the association who were present and thanked the hundreds of members across the country who volunteer their time to come to build as a team, joining hundreds of volunteers who gave their time and talents to build the church. Steering Committee members joined fellow congregation members who grew closer during each week's Bible study classes and countless people who volunteered their time, work and donations of materials and skills to bring everything together, Emmite said.

The Hannibal-LaGrange University has been longtime friends with members of Antioch Baptist Church, and university President Anthony Allen prayed that God blessed everyone in the church moving forward, he said.

“We love you, Pastor Jack,” he said.

The joyous atmosphere of the day was apparent throughout the hymns and words, including the Act of Consecration spoken between Emmite and members of the congregation to dedicate the new building, Emmite said.

“Every once and a while, it came over me that we were finally at the end of it,” he said. “We finally got to the place where we can be in here and officially set sail.”

Volunteers continued to come and meet needs in the church, Emmite said. Two people visited to install downstairs ceiling tiles during the past week.

“We didn't even know they were going to do that,” he said. “God puts them exactly where they need to be.” 

Emmite was grateful for everyone who came out during every step leading up to the dedication and providing their support in so many ways.

“I'm thankful for the friendship of all in the community,” he said. “They didn't have to be here, but they're here to celebrate with us. That means a lot.”

trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com