First Baptist Church holds ceremonial mortgage burning


Sam Wall

Photos by Sam Wall
Trustee Charles Johnson (left), Pastor C. Coles Casey, Trustee William Foster and Trustee Carlton English stand over a copy of the mortgage burning on Sunday at First Baptist Church. The ceremonial procedure took place because the church paid off its 30-year mortgage in six years.

First Baptist Church moved into its new facility on May 15, 2011 with a 30-year mortgage on the building, but paid off in just six years.

Pasto C. Coles Casey said that he knew the church was doing well financially, but didn’t expect the mortgage to be paid off as soon as it was.

“We didn’t know how far ahead we were getting. But we were advised to make a balloon payment to pay it off,” Casey said. “It was very exciting to find out, and really speaks to our members and their dedication to the each other.”

The $2 million mortgage was paid off entirely from the donations of members of the church (just over 100 of them).

Casey has been the pastor at First Baptist for 21 years and said that many of the members have been there for far longer.

“We wanted to honor our senior members when thinking of building this church,” he said. “Many of them couldn’t get up the stairs to eat with everyone else and that bothered me.”

Besides having a single level building, Casey also wanted a bigger facility so that the congregation could “flourish.”

The love of the church and congregation is easy to see at the church’s services. The congregation is encouraged to participate during the sermons and the energy from the choir is contagious. Casey said that the ambience throughout the service is a reflection of the culture.

“It comes from the African-American culture, he said. “We don’t mind showing our excitement for god. We are excited to be in the lord’s house.”

Casey said that the members of this church take great pride in their community.

“They want to see their community thrive, not just here, but all over Radford,” he said. I have always sensed a lot of community support here (Radford).”

Sunday’s celebration had members from multiple churches in the area who came to see the ceremonial burning of the mortgage. Following prayer and songs from the choir, Casey and the deacons dowsed a copy of the document in alcohol and lit in on fire.

Members from Jerusalem Baptist in Roanoke came to the service, including the choir and pastor who sang and gave the sermon.

It’s a group effort, but I really do appreciate my church leaders,” Casey said. “They are the church’s watchmen.”

First Baptist Church is located at 555 Rock Road and holdswomen’s bible study every Monday at 6 p.m., bible study Wednesday’s at 7 p.m. and Sunday school at 9:45 a.m. and main worship at 11 a.m. every Sunday.