Originally created 05/21/05

Mount Vernon rejoices in its 75th year



The 19 adults and five children who gathered in April 1930 to begin Mount Vernon Baptist Church had no idea they were initiating what would become a 75-year legacy.

The 375-member missionary Baptist congregation will commemorate its diamond anniversary at 2 p.m. Sunday at the church, 1930 Olive Road. The Rev. George Brightharp, the pastor of Mount Canaan Baptist Church in Trenton, S.C., will be the guest speaker.

The church is in the South Nellieville community, one of the first areas in Augusta where blacks owned their own homes, said the Rev. Marvin L. McRae, Mount Vernon's pastor.

"It is a proud community," he said.

The church has its origins in a Sunday school that ran 18 months before its founding, said Ida Bogan, 99, a member and the last surviving founder.

Mrs. Bogan also is the mother of the church - one who sets an example for others.

"I tell the young people, 'If you make a mistake, don't stay down there. Pick yourself up and go do something good for the Lord.' That is what I have been trying to do since I was young," said Mrs. Bogan, who was 12 when she was baptized in a creek in Lincolnton, Ga.

When she came to Augusta to work, her mother told her not to leave the Lord in the country, and she didn't, said Mrs. Bogan, who was about 24 when Mount Vernon was organized.

The membership expanded, prompting the congregation to relocate.

The time came to build its own sanctuary. In the interim, Mount Vernon found space in a hall to rent for $7 a month, and broke ground on property along First Avenue that had once been operated by a nightclub.

The lumber from the club was recycled into the new church.

The hall was sold before the sanctuary was finished, so the members moved into a new church that had no windows, doors or pews. Members sat on boards nailed to the walls, Mrs. Bogan said.

Mount Vernon bought adjacent property in the mid-1950s and built a sanctuary.

The congregation worshipped there until the church purchased the Olive Road property from Calvary Baptist Church. It held its first service there about 1980.



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