Church of God to celebrate 45 years

The Sweetwater Church of God will be celebrating 45 years in the their present building. The church has been at 4th and Pine since 1946. The Church of God was organized in Sweetwater in 1929 and has been active in the community since that time. A special service will be held for the Celebration at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 2. Everyone is welcome to joint the celebration. Evangelist and former member the Rev W.C. Ratchford will be speaking at the regular Sunday morning worship service at 10:45 a.m.The Church of God in Sweetwater, Texas was established in 1929 with Pastor Campbell. The church met in the bottom floor of a two story building located on South 1st. In 1930, Bro. Stanley became the pastor.In 1931, the church met in the home of Jesse Morgan. Molly Wilson was the pastor. In 1932, they built a church in Jesse Morgan's backyard. It was a 24 by 40, one-room building. Brother C.E. Neal was pastor at this time.In the mid-1930s they wanted to move the building to Roscoe Street. Many of the townspeople wouldn't let them move it across the railroad tracks, so they waited until midnight and pulled it across the tracks with horses and mules. They bought the parsonage and put the church on the back lot. A family by the name of Joires loaned the money to the church. It cost $40 a month. Each member pledged one dollar a month until the debt was paid.Other pastors at this time were Jack Gilbert, G.W. Lane, Bro. Seagress, Bro. Wineigar, Bro. Gates, and Bro. Morgan. Bro. Dozier was pastor in 1942; Jack Pruitt was pastor in 1946. During Bro. Pruitt's ministry they rocked the outside of the church.Cecil Bridges came in 1946. Later that year they bought the lot on 4th and Pine, costing $1,000. Neighbors started up a petition to try to keep the church from being built and said it was too close to a residence, so the church also bought the residence for a parsonage. They gave $6,000 for it. The church had a basement that was used for Sunday school rooms. The men of the church mixed concrete by hand and used railroad beams to support the walls.Pastors in this building were Bro. Youngblood, Bro. Melton, Bro. Swartz, Bro. Carnes, Bro. Bloomingdale (he was pastor of the church twice), Bro. Demment, Bro. Statem, Bro. Underwood, Bro. Stegal, Bro. Garlen, and Bro. Youngblood.In May 1965, the men of the church began work on the building that stands today. They filled in the basement, supported the roof, and tore the walls down. They kept the roof to the old church and built the new church.During construction, services were held in Southward School. The first service in the church was in December of 1965. The church was built on a 20-year loan and paid off in 15 years. Bro. Thornton was the pastor during the time of construction. Other pastors were Bro. Hart, Bro. Terry, Bro. Farrah, Bro. Watwood, Bro. Ray T. Hill, Bro. Clark, and Bro. James Slayton.The fellowship hall was built in 1985 during Bro. Slayton's ministry. Other pastors were Bro. House, Bro. Sandefer, Bro. Speck, Bro. McGraner, Paul Dawson, and Bro. Larry Garnto. During Bro. Garnto's ministry they bricked the parsonage. Other pastors were Bro. Casey and Bro. Shellnut. The pastor now at the Sweetwater Church of God is Bro. Vernon Groce.