While some celebrate special occasions with gifts, Payson's only non-denominational religious organization recently celebrated its birthday with special services and will celebrate again soon with a new pastor.
Payson Bible Church, 160 S. Main, began holding regular services on Sept. 3, 1970, after taking over a building from the Payson Presbyterian Church, which closed in 1969.Services on Sept. 9 commemorated the church's 20th anniversary, and after the Rev. Lee Whitworth takes over as the church's pastor in November, "there will really be cause for celebration," according to interim Pastor Ira Ransom.
Ransom, who has served in the pastoral capacity since January, said Whitworth will be the church's fifth full-time missionary/pastor and "will be what the church needs to get up again."
The church is affiliated with the Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America and started from various Protestant factions whose members "were offended by the liberality and denying of scriptures they saw in some places," Ransom said.
The IFCA, headquartered in Grandville, Mich., was founded in 1930 and brought many of those factions into fellowship with each other, bringing nationwide Bible churches into existence, said Ransom, who also serves as the IFCA's Utah field director.
"What we stand for is the historic Christianity of the New Testament and the deity of Christ. We believe in salvation by faith and the atonement of Christ for our sins."
Statewide, there are 11 Bible churches: St. George; Valley Bible Church near Cedar City; Payson; Provo; Pleasant Grove; Sandy; Midvale; Kaysville; Roy and Logan, as well as the Brigham City Bible Church, which was the first founded in Utah.
The Payson church houses two separate facilities, the actual chapel and an educational building, constructed in 1979, for many of the church's youth education and recreation programs.
Such programs include Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, which includes scripture memory contests and games for those ages 4 through 18, and a three-week Pioneer Bible Camp for youths held each summer on a 30-acre camp near Nordic Valley resort in Ogden Valley.
The latter includes such activities as handicrafts, religious study and recreation, he said. "Our children's programs complement those the church runs for adults (such as the Men's Fellowship Breakfast)."
Also, the church participates in a bimonthly county program that sends church members to convalescent homes in the area, such as Provo's Crestview Convalescent Center, which church members visited last week.
"We usually have singing, music and messages for the people in those homes. It's something we do to give something to those in the community."
On Sundays, the church holds three meetings for a congregation ranging from 40 to 50 members - Morning Worship, Sunday School and Sunday Sing-spiration, Ransom said.
The first, at 9:30 a.m., includes a piano prelude, often the singing of three hymns, scripture reading and a 30-minute Bible message. Sunday School classes, at 10:45 a.m., are divided into topics for various age groups. The evening meeting, from 6-7:30 p.m., includes not only music and messages, but time for prayer, Ransom said.
For more information on the church and its programs, call 465-3541 or 374-5210.