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Ray Renn, pastor of Vaughan Baptist Church, is the special guest speaker at the bi-weekly complimentary lunch and prayer meeting of Weldon Baptist Church, 609 Washington Avenue. 

The time of the event is noon.

During lunch and before the prayer time, the public is invited to hear Renn share the inspiring success story of church revitalization since his pastoral ministry began at Vaughan Baptist in 2012. Upon his arrival at what is his first solo pastorate, the once thriving rural church had dwindled to less than a dozen members. The congregation has since stabilized and grown under his and the deacons' leadership. 

Formed on Protestantism's 380th Reformation Day, October 31, 1897, the Warren County church sits along Eaton Ferry Road, between Highway 158 and Lake Gaston. 

Its present building dates to 1959. Some Confederate soldiers are buried in the nearby Vaughan Cemetery, including Charles Skinner Riggan (1842-1947), the last Confederate veteran in Warren County.

Besides pastoring and community volunteerism while fathering three children with his wife Jessica, the Henderson, Vance County native Malcolm Ray Renn, Jr., is also the full-time automotive instructor at Halifax Community College in Weldon.

"With so many historic churches — rural, suburban and city — experiencing numerically declining members throughout North Carolina, the United States and Canada, we look forward to hearing and learning from Pastor Ray about how the Lord spiritually revitalized, revived and stabilized 123-year-old Vaughan Baptist," said Weldon Baptist's new pastor and scholar-in-residence Dr. Francis Kyle. 

The Connecticut native Kyle is a graduate of Prairie College in Alberta, Canada, Toronto Baptist Seminary in the province of Ontario, and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Among other church revitalization training seminars, and in addition to literature provided by the Rocky Mount-based North Roanoke Baptist Association, Kyle attended the February 13 Church Revitalization Leadership Intensive workshop in Ahoskie. The workshop was sponsored by the Church Health and Revitalization Team of the Cary-based Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Regarding Weldon Baptist, the congregation formed in 1865 at the end of the Civil War and 20 years after the Southern Baptist Convention began in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia. 

Dr. Joseph Franklin Deans (1839-1903), a Virginia native and George Washington University-educated Confederate chaplain, served as the founding pastor of the now 156-year-old congregation in Halifax County. 

Weldon Baptist's second and current building was erected in 1915. It is situated within the nationally recognized and 109-acre Weldon Historic District. 

For more information on the July 28 event and Weldon Baptist, contact the church at 252-536-3836. Or visit their public Facebook page at facebook.com/weldonbaptistchurchnc

For Vaughan Baptist, visit vaughanbaptist.org.