VERONA — While the pandemic is keeping parishioners from meeting in the church building for worship at this time, Seventh Day Baptist Church will stream a special service and hold a parade in celebration of the church’s 200th anniversary.
A special commemorative worship service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday to include special video greetings from denominational leaders, and a video presentation that celebrates the bicentennial, said The Rev. Steven James, pastor. He said the church has actually been streaming services for years.
“We are also having a ‘parking lot’ vesper service on Friday evening at 7 p.m., preceded by a parade of cars from ‘downtown’ Verona, to the church,” James said. “We start gathering for the parade at J.D. George Elementary School at 6 p.m. that evening.”
As part of the branch of Christianity known as Seventh Day Baptists, who celebrate their 350th year in the U.S. in 2021, the church’s roots go back to a great-grandson of the famed Roger Williams, the nation’s first “Baptist,” and founder of Rhode Island. Seventh Day Baptists are Baptists who honor the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as being blessed, holy and made at creation for the good of mankind.
In 1804, Williams’ great-grandson, Daniel Williams, along with his family, left Rhode Island and started “up country.” After having lived for a few months in Berlin, N.Y., they then continued west for four weeks with a yoke of oxen and a horse, and settled in what was then known as “the Western Wild” in the towns of Rome and Verona.
Soon after, Daniel’s brothers, and his remaining five sons who had stayed in Rhode Island, joined them. Today this would be called “planting a church,” the Rev. James explained.
Five years later, in 1809, the group of pioneers made a covenant with one another to encourage each other in their faith since they were no longer near their home churches in Rhode Island and Berlin. Today this would be called a “fellowship,” the pastor said.
Then, on June 19, 1820, this original group, along with others, made another covenant together, this time to form themselves into a full-fledged congregation, or church.
“To this day, 200 years after becoming a church, the Verona Seventh Day Baptist Church continues to thrive by God’s blessing, seeking to honor Him with their lives and to make a difference in their community,” said James.