The interior of Citizen Baptist Church in Russellville is getting a facelift.
With the assistance of members of Morristown’s Hillcrest Baptist Church, renovations are nearly completed at Citizen Baptist. Hillcrest Baptist is part of Baptist Builders, an organization of church members who renovate churches, as well as homes destroyed by natural disasters in 12 states across the country, including Tennessee.
During the nearly two-year-old project, the volunteers have already renovated the fellowship hall, added new windows and renovated the restrooms. They are also currently rebuilding a ramp entering the church. Citizen Baptist Deacon Hollis Langston is happy with the results so far.
“(The renovations) are coming along great. (Hillcrest Baptist) has intelligent people working on this,” he said. “They’ve been doing this across the country, and they do a lot of volunteer work.”
Langston, a Jefferson City native who is a retired miner who unearthed zinc to be used for medicines and cookware, has been a member of the church for nearly three decades. He has also been aiding in the renovating of the church, bringing supplies to the builders.
“I’ve been getting parts (for the volunteers),” he said. “Most of the time, they have what they need, but when they don’t, I get the parts they need.”
Originally a schoolhouse for African-American students during segregation, Citizen Baptist was founded in 1967 when the initial parishioners bought the old building once the state was forced to desegregate its schools. Its motto is “we teach relationship - not religion.”
Under the leadership of Pastor Bill Marks, members are attending services Sunday and Wednesday during the renovations. Langston said the parishioners – and the volunteers - have been dedicated during the renovations with everyone playing its own role in the project.
“(The members) have been excellent, and (the volunteers) have calmly come and helped us,” said Langston, who relocated to Morristown in 1972. “Everybody works together here. We ask the Lord for his help in building this, and he’s come through.”
Langston credits member Ella Rucker for getting Hillcrest Baptist parishioners to assist with the project.
“She helped bring the builders here. She’s our secretary, and she’s done an excellent job putting this together,” he said.
The Citizens Baptist renovations are expected to be finished within the next week.