Johnston County church goes back to the future
submitted report
September 09, 2010

Johnston County church goes back to the future

Johnston County church goes back to the future
submitted report
September 09, 2010

In the face of a tough

economy that’s stifling charitable giving, one Johnston County church is taking

a page from its past to preserve its future.

From 1936 to 1951,

Thanksgiving Baptist Church in Selma held an annual Harvest Day celebration to

generate funds for its ministries.

It became a phenomenon which

attracted hundreds of people each year from several states and garnered

national attention, including a 1948 article in The Saturday Evening Post which

said in part: “The people of Johnston County, North Carolina, save their best

products to be sold at auction so the work of their church can go forward. Is

this the cure for the growing indifference that threatens America’s rural

churches? Thanksgiving Church stands white and clean in a hillside meadow in

the gently rolling landscape of Johnston County in Central North Carolina.

Johnston County is an agricultural county, and Thanksgiving, nine miles from

the nearest town, is a Baptist church, the members of which are small farmers

and their families.

“But go to Thanksgiving on

Harvest Day, the day in autumn when the little church holds its annual Lord’s

Auction, and you will see something more virile than the dignity of age … If

you arrive in the early afternoon of Harvest Day, shortly before the Lord’s

Auction is due to begin, you may conclude that a small county fair is about to

open on the church grounds.

“Where did all these things

come from and why are they here on the church grounds? They came from the farms

of the members and friends of Thanksgiving Church. Since the crack of dawn,

cars, trucks and wagons have been bringing them from every direction. They are

here because these are the gifts of the people to their church — their gifts

‘to the Lord,’ as the forthright local phrase has it — and they have been

assembled and put on display because they are now to be sold by the church at

the annual Lord’s Auction, the event for which the other activities of the

morning have been a preparation.

“What has the Lord’s Acre

Plan meant to the members of Thanksgiving Church — and to rural church members

all over the South who have followed the plan? It has certainly meant more than

just a practical way of raising money for the church. That it is practical is

proved by the fact that no other money plan has ever worked half so well. But

even more important, the Lord’s Acre Plan has given these people a genuinely

happy comradeship and kinship with the other folks in their church who worked

for the same cause. …”

On Oct. 9 — to stimulate

financial giving and foster a renewed sense of community pride — Thanksgiving

Baptist Church will hold its first Harvest Day in 59 years. Members promise

food, fun and an auction.

Find Thanksgiving Baptist

Church at 6701 NC Highway 42, two miles east of the Buffalo Road intersection,

near Clayton.

Call Pastor Steve Reed at 965-3204 or e-mail

[email protected].