CORNING - Friendship Baptist Church on Pearl Street in Corning is celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend with a variety of programs and activities today through Sunday.
Friendship Baptist Church's roots began with Beulah Baptist Church, which was founded on East Market Street in 1909 by members of Corning’s black community. Many of them were recent arrivals in the area from the south.
“The train dropped them off in Big Flats and they walked 10 miles to Corning,” said Friendship Baptist Church Pastor Lorri Thornton. “This is where they settled, and this is where they built the first church.”
That church lasted only about a year, but it laid the foundation for what would become Friendship Baptist Church in 1919. Friendship Baptist was first led by Rev. Morgan M. Days and his wife Ruby Mae.
Since then, the church has had numerous pastors and several locations. It was founded on Market Street, and was relocated to Tuxill Avenue before settling on its current, and permanent location on Pearl Street.
Today the church has nearly 120 parishioners in its congregation.
Pastor Thornton said this year’s 100th anniversary of Friendship Baptist is a testament to the strength and spirit of the congregation, as well as its uncompromising faith in Christ.
“Nothing can last 100 years, especially a church, if it’s not rooted and grounded in Christ,” said Pastor Thornton. “The cornerstone has to be Jesus, and from everything I’ve seen from the moment I began worshipping with them, it solidifies it.”
“You’ve got to have a will that’s not just your will, but the will of God,” she added. “You’ve got to have concern for the community, and an expectation to grow. And all of those things are found here.”
The church will celebrate its 100th anniversary beginning today with a semi-formal soiree from 7-10 p.m. at the Corning Radisson. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.
An anniversary brunch will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the church, located at 120 Pearl Street. Elder members of the congregation will be present to share their stories, and a video showcasing the church’s history will be viewed.
“Some of the oldest members will be attending, and they will be sharing memories,” said Pastor Thornton.
Morning worship service will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday with former Friendship Baptist Pastor Donald Stevenson as a guest speaker, followed by a luncheon from 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Local 1000 Union Hall. This will be followed by an afternoon service at 3 p.m., led by former Friendship Baptist Pastor Nathaniel Wright.
For more information, call (607) 937-5705 or visit www.friendshipbaptistcorning.org.