Gayles Memorial hosts mortgage burning service
By Jasmine Young For Sun-Times Media August 30, 2013 9:54AM
Gayles Memorial Baptist Church, under the presiding Rev. George Marshall, has gone through two expansions and on Aug. 25, held a “Mortgage Burning Ceremony” to celebrate paying off the building loan more than 10 years ahead of schedule. | submitted
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:18AM
The first African American Baptist church on the West Side of Aurora went from being held in a home on May Street in 1950 to completing its own sanctuary in 1984. Gayles Memorial Baptist Church, under the presiding Rev. George Marshall, has gone through two expansions and on Aug. 25 held a “Mortgage Burning Ceremony” to celebrate paying off the building loan more than 10 years ahead of schedule.
The service started at 11 a.m. with a welcome that acknowledged the members who had contributed to the building fund, included selections from the choir and an offering to further the other ministries of the church and words from visitors congratulating Gayles on their accomplishment.
Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner attended the service to congratulate the congregation on their accomplishment. State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, who was unable to attend, sent a letter to the church to commemorate Gayles Memorial’s debt-free sanctuary, among others.
During the service, several members also shared their experiences and the history of the church. With 250 members, the members were able to pay off the loan through donations over time to the building fund during Sunday services.
“The reverend also said a few words explaining that this accomplishment was not his own, it was one not of just the members but also that of God,” said Kimberly Harris, webmaster for the church website and a member of the church. “It was God who allowed us to get to this point in the way that we did, despite any challenges we may have come across in the process.”
During the 3 p.m. service, the church board and the pastor burned the mortgage and placed the ashes in an urn donated to Gayles by James Funeral Services, a funeral home in Aurora. After the burning of the mortgage and the blessing of the service, members enjoyed fellowship over a light dinner.
“It’s amazing that we were able to celebrate this day considering the size of our church. Also the church members have their own house loans, car loans, etc. and this was a great inspiration to show what can be done,” Harris said.
Sister Willie Mae Walker, the church clerk and a member of the mortgage-burning committee consisting of 11 members, said the planning for the service had been in the works since May, but the vision for it began when the loan was originally paid off in 2012. Walker, who has been with the church since 1992, was responsible for putting together the entire history of the church for the booklet distributed during the service.
“We’re very happy with the outcome of the service. It was a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, but it all came together in the end,” Walker said.
Sister Joy Bowling, a member of the committee, said the Scripture for the service, chosen by the committee was 1 Kings 9:3: “And the LORD said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and your supplication that you have made before Me; I have consecrated this house which you have built to put My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.’”