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February 6, 2014

Museum exhibit features history of local churches

The Vigo County Historical Museum’s opening exhibit for 2014 will be “That Old Time Religion: A Retrospective of Early Churches in Vigo County.”

It will highlight the history of area churches, past and present. This is a multi-denominational display which includes artifacts, photographs and sketches. The museum’s collection of plates commemorating church anniversaries will also be included.

While there are numerous pictures of the facades of religious structures, the exhibit endeavors to move “outside the walls” to present the role of the church in the community, and the activities of individuals who make up the congregations. Various churches hosted Ladies Aid Societies, First Communion classes, reunion groups, special committees, picnics and social gatherings. Many of these will be depicted.

A large number of Vigo County churches trace their origins to the 1800s.

The first Baptist church was formally organized in July of 1836, only 60 years after the Declaration of Independence.

Allen Chapel was founded in 1837 in a double-frame house on South First Street. Land was also purchased in 1837 for the building of St. Joseph Church on South Fifth Street.

These are just a few stories to be told.

The Historical Society is planning several social events around this exhibit. On May 18, an old-fashioned church picnic will take place on the museum’s grounds. Attendees are invited to bring a picnic lunch, while “church ladies’” desserts will be available for purchase. Further information will be announced at a later date.

The Historical Museum said it is not recommending this exhibit as an alternative to Sunday church, but it is hoped that visitors will come away with a knowledge and appreciation of the role local churches have played in Terre Haute’s development.

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