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A local congregation is celebrating its centennial this weekend with a very special homecoming service on Sunday.
Cairo Church of God was organized as a result of a series of brush arbor meetings held near Whigham in 1919 that were led by a Dr. Mitchell and 19-year-old J.L. Underwood, who became the founding pastor of the Cairo Church of God.
The church was organized with 20 charter members in June 1919. The first church was an open tabernacle with no floor, according to current Pastor Dewayne Atkinson. Church history says the original structure was intentionally set on fire three years later.
According to Pastor Atkinson, the church has grown over the last century and relocated five times in its history.
It was in 1980, under the leadership of Pastor Varney Aspinwall that the church’s current facility was constructed at 301 Livestock Pavilion Rd. in Cairo. In 2010, under the leadership of Pastor Atkinson, the church constructed a new 5,000 square foot Life and Activities Center, which includes a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. The new facility was built by GFA Design Build of Cairo. Included in the facilities plan was the total renovation and redesign of the church’s previous Educational and Social Hall and the replacement of the first floor ceiling of the sanctuary foyer and office.
To finance the facility improvements, the church borrowed $427,000 and the church’s total debt as of this week stands at $67,178.30. In 2018 alone, the church cut its debt by $100,000, according to Pastor Atkinson.
The Cairo Church of God congregation has set an ambitious goal of being debt-free by March 2020 and the pastor says 100 percent of the offering collected this Sunday will go toward retiring the debt of the church.
“We have so many people to thank for contributing and helping to make the goal of a debt-free church a reality. When I was voted in and appointed to lead the church, we were $70,000 in debt. Two years later, in 1998, we held a note burning and invited former Pastor Aspinwall to return to participate in the service,” Pastor Atkinson said. “We have much to be thankful for,” he added.
To celebrate, homecoming is being observed this weekend and the guest minister will be Pastor John Bagley of Sparks, Ga.
Pastor Bagley serves Cornerstone Christian Church in Sparks.
In addition, there will be special music and immediately following the morning worship a lunch, prepared by church’s kitchen crew, will be served.
Praise and Worship begins in the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. followed by special music by the Sanctuary Choir. Pastor Bagley will close out the service with the homecoming message.
“Homecoming is the highlight of the church year at Cairo Church of God and the church views this day as both a celebration of God’s goodness and grace, and as an exciting opportunity for personal evangelism. We would invite everyone to come and worship with us,” Pastor Atkinson said.