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Historic church begins new life

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Worshipers gather in St. Mark's Episcopal during a Saturday service to mark its opening as a mission of the Diocese of East Carolina.

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By Thadd White
Bertie Ledger-Advance

Friday, November 25, 2016

ROXOBEL — A small, historical church in Bertie county held its first regular service in nearly 25 years last week as it began a new life under a special designation of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Roxobel, which traces its roots to 1883, held evening prayer service Saturday attended by 26 people. The event officially began the church's designation as a mission by the East Carolina diocese.

"As a mission, we plan to do things differently and try to reach the community at different times and with different events," said St. Mark Senior Warden Johnna Browne Lewis. "Our services will be held on Saturday evenings, and we welcome everyone."

Restoring the church was a family affair with Lewis working directly with her brother, Joseph M. Browne III, who is Canon for Diocesan Life in the diocese.

"As the ideas unfolded, and the board of trustees approved the church as a mission, things began to fall into place," Lewis said.

In addition to Lewis' appointment as senior warden, Barbara Pittman was chosen as Treasurer.

The work began with cleaning up the church, a task taken on by Williard Lewis, Martha Parker, Lisa Briley, Leslie Briley, Logan Chapman, Robert Chapman, Alec Gunnel, Joe Browne, Marites Browne and other volunteers.

That was followed by Saturday's service, which was led by Joseph M. Browne III. The 26 in attendance was vastly higher than the three or four left in the final years the church was open.

There is still work that needs to be done to the older church building, such as new duct work.

As a fundraiser for the repairs, St. Mark's will hold a Christmas Vendor and Craft Show from 12-5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4, in the Aulander Community Building.

The church has partnered with the Bertie County Humane Society, who will offer spaghetti plates beginning at noon.

The event will also feature a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, door prizes and a visit from Santa Claus.

Those wishing to get involved in the restoration and repair of St. Mark's can do so by joining the Facebook group Friends of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Roxobel, NC.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the restoration of the church can also do so by sending the donation to St. Mark's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 91, Roxobel, NC 27872.

The Ledger-Advance is based in Windsor and serves all of Bertie County.

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