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Children’s Homes celebrates milestone
J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications
November 18, 2010
4 MIN READ TIME

Children’s Homes celebrates milestone

Children’s Homes celebrates milestone
J. Blake Ragsdale, BCH Communications
November 18, 2010

The arrival of nine-year-old

Mary Presson at the Thomasville Baptist Orphanage on November 11, 1885, marked

the official beginning of what is known today as the Baptist Children’s Homes

of North Carolina (BCH).

Exactly 125 years later,

current and former BCH residents, staff members, North Carolina Baptists and

friends gathered in Thomasville to celebrate the ministry’s “Quasquicentennial”

anniversary.

“I don’t use the word

‘awesome’ very often, but this is an awesome day,” said Michael C. Blackwell,

BCH’s longest-tenured president at almost 28 years. “It’s a glorious

celebration and a fitting conclusion to 125 years of helping children and families

in North Carolina.”

BCH photo

BCH president Michael C. Blackwell and Quasquicentennial director Jim Edminson unveil the “Child of Hope” statue, the centerpiece of the Heritage Walk and Garden. See photo gallery.

Multiple events marked the

day at Mills Home, named for BCH founder John Haymes Mills. The first was a

luncheon program that included the opening of a time capsule buried during

BCH’s Centennial celebration in 1985. Among the items included in the capsule

were a letter from then United States president Ronald Reagan, a copy of the

BCH Centennial history book, a wooden craft made by a child in care, and a

letter written to BCH staff, residents and friends by Blackwell, who also presided

over the agency’s Centennial celebration.

Afterwards, the sanctuary at

Mills Home Baptist Church overflowed with nearly 700 guests for an anniversary

worship service led by BCH alumnus Milton Bliss and Quasquicentennial director

Jim Edminson.

Baptist State Convention of

North Carolina’s (BSC) Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr.

addressed the congregation during the service affirming North Carolina

Baptists’ dedication to the BCH ministry as well as Blackwell’s leadership.

“The ministry of the Baptist

Children’s Homes of North Carolina is the heart of God in action,” Hollifield

proclaimed. “We affirm that after 125 years, the Baptist State Convention of

North Carolina continues to be committed to this partnership.”

In his remarks, Hollifield

included a special message for the children in BCH’s care. “North Carolina

Baptists want you to know that God loves you. We want you to grow into that

wonderful and joyous person that you were meant to be.”

Blackwell preached from 1

Corinthians 13.

“These three remain: faith

and hope, but the greatest of these is love,” he said.

“In all the things I have

learned in my 28 years here, the greatest of all of them is the gift of love. I

can, if my eyes are open, see this kind of unconditional love exhibited every

day at Baptist Children’s Homes.

“I have felt it today. I

felt it on Monday (Nov. 8) at the Koury Convention Center during BCH’s presentation.

“And what this year has done

for me more than anything else is that it has increased my capacity to love.

That, for me, is a great gift.”

The final event was the

dedication of the Heritage Walk and Garden, a monument in front of the campus

church built by bricks inscribed with inspirational messages from BCH staff,

alumni and friends. The centerpiece is a bronze statue of a girl affectionately

referred to as the “Child of Hope,” her arms raised skyward in victory.

“Reaching this historic

milestone is a victory for North Carolina Baptists, our many friends who have

helped sustain this ministry and the children and families we humbly serve,”

Blackwell said. “But the ultimate victory belongs to God who has always been at

the heart and center of every life that has been changed and restored

throughout these 125 years.”