News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 23, 2014

Fabric of faith

Friendly Grove Church stitches 175 years of service into history

Dustyn Fatheree
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Friendly Grove Baptist Church started out in a log cabin in 1839, and soon will be honoring its 175th anniversary.

Though the building has been renovated multiple times, the ideals have stayed the same, said Wilma Cochran, who has been attending Friendly Grove since she was born.

“I love good ol’ hometown preaching,” she said, after saying she was born just around the corner from the church. “This place is like a home and has been forever.”

In 1905, the missionary ladies made a quilt and raffled it off during a fundraiser. The quilt had over 400 names stitched into it. With a “stroke of luck,” the quilt made its way back to the church in 2009. Members of the church are working on a new quilt that features pictures of the church from 1890, 1974 and present day. The church was renovated a few other times but was rebuilt completely after a fire broke out in the 1800s.

“We’ll be putting a binding on the quilt today,” Cochran said as she looked at over 400 names of recent church-goers stitched into the new quilt. She said this coming Sunday marks the church’s actual anniversary.

Cochran said the church will enjoy a meal after Sunday’s service, and there will likely be “some reminiscing.” They will also make phone calls and write letters to people who haven’t attended in a while.

“We’re not raffling this quilt off,” she said. “We are going to hang a quilt on each side of the church.”

Betty Thomas, who has been attending Friendly Grove church since 1958, said the first church structure had 12 sides.

“The 12 sides represented the 12 apostles,” she said. “The church itself was shaped like a cross.”

As pioneers back in the “wagon days” passed by the church’s current location, one group’s child died and the people buried him by the church. Now, the cemetery has grown to about 10 acres around the church.

After the quilt is formally shown Sunday, Monica Stephens said she hopes the tradition will continue in the future.

“I think it is neat to do something that hasn’t been done for years,” Stephens said. “I hope my grandkids can see it someday.”