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August 14, 2022 - 6:23pm

First Presbyterian Church of Elba celebrates bicentennial with picnic

posted by Howard B. Owens in First Presbyterian Church of Elba, elba, news, history, religion.

img_2396elbapres.jpgThe last time the First Presbyterian Church of Elba had its property lines surveyed, Ulysses S. Grant was president.

That's just one measure of how much history has passed since the church's founding 200 years ago.

"Two hundred years is a long time for a small church in a rural community to be able to hang in here," said the current pastor, Rev. Barbara Tipton (inset photo). "They have seen the Civil War and the Depression and World War I, World War II, all that history they have gone through and watched the history of this country and the development of this country."

That long history shows the spirit of the people of Elba, Tipton said during a bicentennial celebration picnic in the Elba Village Park on Saturday. The picnic included live music, food served by Elba's Boy Scouts, a petting zoo, a balloon artist, and a bounce house.

"They've been through several fires and rebuilds and they still hang in there," Tipton said. "They're tenacious. They need to be in a community like this that has seen all kinds of changes. They're salt of the earth. They have the muck in their blood. The nature of farming makes you strong."

The church is healthy, Tipton said, with about 100 members and strong regular attendance from much of the congregation. Tipton has led the flock for 15 years, making her the third-longest tenured pastor in the church's history.

"We're fortunate that we have a choir director and an organist," Tipton said. "Many churches our size don't have that, and our members contribute to their community through food pantries and special offerings. They are generous people when it comes to answering a need, and expressed needs when people have them, within their limitations. They do the best that they can out of generosity of spirit. You have to admire that."

Photos by Howard Owens

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Michele Keberle makes friends with a calf born earlier Saturday morning.

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