FERRIER FILES: Hendersonville church built by freed slaves turns 150

(Submitted to FOX 17 News)

Rockland Baptist Church in Hendersonville has been hymns and service, faith and family for 150 years now.

It was 1868 when the South was under reconstruction -- while Rockland Baptist was under new construction.

It was started by a small group of freed slaves with a truly remarkable vision.

"The name of this is Rockland," Pastor Leslie Stratton said. "It is not an accident. This is rocky land. Those former freed slaves had farms. They tried to to plant crops in rocky soil and that is a difficult thing to do."

But they did it, and they planted a church too.

"Here you had men who were former slaves, no resources, no assets, no connections," Stratton said. "All they had is a belief we are still here 150 years later

Rockland Baptist has put together a walk through 150 years of history.

Elizabeth Wallace is so connected at the church -- she is a rock of Rockland. All her kids, her 10 ten grandkids, and her eight great grandkids go to the church.

"Look after each other," Wallace said. "Love each other, that kind of makes a community in the church. You don't have to worry about being happy when you come to church because you know you are going to see people smiling and greeting and making you welcome."

There are members like Irene Kertchaval, who believes when you are in the house of God you should be in the moment.

"I came here as a Methodist when that music hit me I am on my feet, I can't believe it," Kertchaval said. "And I listen to that music and it makes me young. We just do things well here. Our kids go to college. We cook well. We dance well. We serve well."

Servants who know exactly what they have been called to do today and 150 years ago.

Different people. Same faith.

"We are still centered around God," Pastor Stratton said. "Our congregation is built around the word of God. We believe in living it and teaching and striving to live it each and every day. Because without God in the church, it’s just a building."

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