Roundaway Baptist Church turns 100

By BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,

The path to Glory is straight and narrow, but the road that led to one of Sunflower County’s newest communities in 1919 was anything but.

The twists and turns taken for about 12 miles heading north from Indianola led directly to the name Roundaway.

This Sunday, Roundaway Baptist Church will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in what is still one of the county’s smallest, yet tight-knit and faithful communities.

It all started with the families Atkins, Donahoe, Evans, Marcus, McCay, Mullins, Ray, Russell, Smith and Upchurch, according to the official history of the church.

Many of those names remain in the pews, though others have found their resting places in the church cemetery. Other families over the years have joined the church’s roll, as it continues in its mission to “spread the Gospel to the entire world.”

It all began in the community’s two-room schoolhouse.

A group had met there to discuss the founding of the church, but they had forgotten to go to Indianola to pick up Rev. E.O. Vernon, who had arrived to help with the endeavor.

E.F. Donahoe made the emergency trip to Indianola to get him.

“The story goes that because of the poor road conditions and the roundabout way to get here, the community should be called Roundaway,” the church history said.

Various preachers came to visit and minister at the church’s once-per-month meetings in the beginning.

They met at the school for the first decade until two acres of land were purchased that became the site of the church.

The first building was built in 17 working days, and services were twice a month.

A few years later, additional acreage was purchased to build a permanent home for the pastor.

By the 1960s, the church had outgrown its building and a new sanctuary began to take shape.

In 1965, a brick structure was built, with 11 classrooms, a kitchen, a fellowship room, bathrooms, a library, a pastor’s study and a nursery.

Many additions have been made to the church over the past 50-plus years, including a new multipurpose wing in 2003 and an upgrade to the sanctuary under current pastor, Rev. Bob Hill, who has been at the church since 2006.

Roundaway continues to be involved in the local community and in missions abroad. Many of its members these days come from other parts of the county to be a part of worship on Sunday mornings.

The church has ordained eight men into the ministry and has supported several with seminary training.

As the church celebrates its 100th anniversary, the evidence of God’s presence is confirmed by the vibrant life that remains with its members today.

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