A local church celebrated its 35-year anniversary on Friday.
Gas was only 86 cents, and a Happy Meal was new to the McDonald’s menu when the Minda Street Church of Christ opened in 1979. Since then, it has been a cornerstone in the Abilene community and lives of its members, said Gary Bryant, a long-time member and elder at the church.
“It changed my whole life,” he said. “I had practically given up on churches. I was on the edge of divorce.”
The Minda Street church has been preparing for its anniversary for its last year. Since last October, the church has hosted one event a month to raise awareness and excitement about the milestone marker. The build-up culminated in a weekend-long celebration that started Friday night and ended Sunday.
Festivities kicked off Friday with a black-tie gala at the Hunter Welcome Center. A red carpet greeted current and former members as tuxedos and pearls shimmered in the autumn evening.
The Minda family gathered the next morning at Nelson Park for fellowship and food. They reconvened that evening for a gospel-singing extravaganza. Guest singers and groups from across the country came to lead the church in a celebratory worship service. The anniversary celebration ended the next morning with their standard Sunday services.
The festivities went far beyond celebrating the church’s 35-year existence, though. Dr. Tony Roach, the church’s founder and preacher, used the milestone to reunite the entire church family.
“It just allows old members to fellowship with the ones that are here now,” Bryant said. “That’s what church is all about.”
Throughout the weekend, everyone in attendance had the opportunity to document his or her “My Minda Story.” People filmed or wrote down their favorite memories from their time in the church or simply what the church has meant in their lives. These will serve as time capsules to preserve the church’s history and unite the congregation.
“When I came to Minda Street in 1981, there was only 25 to 30 people there,” said Fred Famble, another church elder. “I really thought it wasn’t enough people to eat a chicken, let alone have a church.”
Now, Minda Street has 200 members. Bryant believes the longevity and growth are a testament to the church’s first member, Dr. Roach.
“What has kept us going, I think, is his love for this church and the fact that he is not afraid to speak the truth,” Bryant said. “That is what we have done the whole 21 years I have been here. We just stick with the Bible.”