Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Ron Warnick
QCS Senior Writer 

'It's like a home'

Forrest Community Church marks its 100th year


October 19, 2022

Ron Warnick

Musicians Check Rippee and Allie Brooks lead singing and praise during the 100th birthday celebration Sunday of Forrest Community Church in Forrest.

FORREST - Forrest Community Church held its 100th birthday celebration on Sunday, but the event also served as a homecoming for many former members and residents.

The little white church in the sparsely populated village on southern Quay County's caprock typically draws 12 to 18 people for services.

But this Sunday, more than 80 people showed up, with more arriving when services began. That forced members to place folding chairs in the back of the Baptist-affiliated church, and more took seats in the balcony.

A buzz went through the church someone mentioned "Miss Lindsey" had arrived.

"Miss Lindsey" is 93-year-old Carrie Lindsey, who taught at the now-closed Forrest School in starting in 1948. She played piano at the church for decades, and she guided many children at the school to the Christian faith.

Lindsey said after the service she had transferred her membership to a church in Grady, then returned to the Forrest church years later.

"It's just a home church," she said. "I know all the people, and we've been here all this time. It's like a home."

On Sunday, parishioners cleared a way through the crowd for Lindsey, who was using a walker, and found a spot for her to sit in the second pew from the front.

Special acoustic music was provided by Check Rippee and Allie Brooks, both who became nostalgic on Sunday.

"This is how church was for me growing up," said Rippee, an Elida native. "What a wonderful way to grow up. Wherever there's God's people, there's home."

Brooks, a Portales native, said she also was raised in small churches.

"I can relate to what it feel like to be at home," she said.

With that, they led singing of "Are You Washed in the Blood," "Just a Closer Walk with Thee," "I Stand Amazed," "Goodness of God" and "How Great Thou Art." Voices filled the room.

Several parishioners and former pastors spoke of Forrest Community Church's influence on their lives.

"It's a blessing to see this place packed," one former pastor said.

"This church quickly became a family," another said.

Tar Henderson, representing the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, presented a congratulatory plaque to current pastor Rusty Kenyon.

"You are the salt and light of the world," Henderson said, paraphrasing a Bible verse. "I'm glad you guys have shined that light for 100 years."

Forrest Missionary Baptist Church was organized June 11, 1922, with 18 charter members, according to the "Quay County 1903-1985" history book. Its members initially held services in homes around Forrest and later in Forrest School, alternating with area Methodists.

The members launched a building fund in 1941, and construction on the church began a year later. With the building near completion, the Rev. Jack Hanna held its first service there on May 3, 1943.

Kenyon said the centennial celebration was scheduled for October because it was the best time to do so.

Kenyon's sermon that morning contained themes of perseverance. He noted Forrest Community Church was "a congregation in the middle of nowhere" but added: "This is a mighty little congregation serving a mighty God."

He said many members are dryland farmers and ranchers, plus guests from Clovis-based Lighthouse Mission, who know perseverance.

Referring to Jesus Christ, Kenyon said: "I can persevere because He can persevere."

With the perseverance theme, Kenyon could have referred to the church itself. Forrest School closed in 1966 and is in ruins. The village's only business closed in 1975. The church, a nearby firehouse and a few houses are all that remain.

After the service, attendees walked to the nearby firehouse's community room, where a huge spread of locally made barbecued brisket, sides and desserts were served.

The day concluded with Kenyon having local ranchers burn their cattle brands onto a board. The board will be hung in the church - a nod to its long ties with the ranching community.


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