Church celebrates King James Version of Bible
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Members of Friendship Baptist Church took a step back in time Sunday in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible.
More than 160 people attended the service where men donned denim overalls and women wore bonnets, hats and old-timey dresses.
“I was very glad to see so many people here,” church member Lynn Welch said. “The dressing up is fun, but it’s the reason behind it that I want to get across.”
Welch said she has a strong personal connection to the King James Bible.
“I believe on it and in it,” she said. “Unlike other versions, it doesn’t change.”
Each Sunday, Pastor Jason Pierce uses scripture from the King James Bible as part of his sermon.
He said the church spent months preparing for the celebration.
“The only thing that would be bigger than this one is another 100 years,” he said.
Pierce said the anniversary marks the first time the Bible was made available to the masses.
“It allowed the common man to own the Bible in a language that he understood,” he said. “He no longer had to rely on a priest to translate it.”
Pierce said the King James Bible was the springboard to the composition of other modern translations.
“Every great evangelical’s work started with the King James version,” he said.
Church member Denise Watkins said the King James Bible is also an important part of United States history.
“I think that our religious freedom is based on the King James Bible,” she said. “If it hadn’t been for the King James Bible and our forefathers we wouldn’t have the freedom to worship like we do today.”
During the service Sunday, Pierce and his wife, Lena, made a gift to the church to mark the Bible’s anniversary
The couple donated an exact replica of the original Bible and a page from one of the orignal copies to the church.
“We wanted to share both of these things with the church,” Pierce said.
Pierce’s father, Greg Pierce, traveled from Arkansas to deliver Sunday’s sermon. He said the Bible is the best defense against evil.
“The Devil knows how powerful the sword is, that’s the King James Bible,” the elder Pierce said. “Keep doing what you’re doing, stand on the Bible.”
He told the congregation that he prefers the King James Bible because many modern versions are missing verses that are included in the original.
Prior to Sunday’s service, church members enjoyed horse-drawn carriage rides and music outside.
The Christian bluegrass band Straight and Narrow performed a number of songs during the service.
Jason Pierce said he hopes his fellow churchgoers take a renewed appreciation for the King James Bible away from Sunday’s service.
“An appreciation for what was done, an appreciation for us to be able to have the Bible in our house regardless of what version people use today,” he said.
Church member Christine Smith said she was humbled to be able to “feed” herself with the word of God through the King James Bible.
“It amazes me how God can take what we look at as simple words and make them so meaningful,” she said.
Smith said always uses the King James Bible.
“They’ve removed the blood of Christ from modern translations,” she said.
Church member Kenetha Brown said the King James version is the only Bible she reads.
“There are so many things left out of other translations,” she said. “I don’t like to see changes to the Bible.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Facts about the King James Bible
• The most popular Bible translation; an estimated 1 billion or more copies have been published.
• First published in 1611.
• More than 169 original 1611 King James Bibles are in existence today.
• The original book was very large: approximately 17 inches tall, 30 inches wide when opened, and weighing up to 30 pounds.
• The King James Bible is the first English Bible ever printed in the United States — first printed by the King’s Printer in England, then printing and distribution spread throughout the world.
• Public officials on all levels of United States government, including presidents, have taken their oath of office with the King James Bible.
• A committee of 54 translators worked for seven years to complete the King James translation.
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