Monument, time capsule dedicated to mark BPC's Centennial Celebration

By Terry Gaston
BPC Public Relations

Brewton-Parker College's first 100 years, its present and its future were honored on April 28 with the dedication and unveiling of a Centennial Monument and the dedication of a forthcoming time capsule to be buried at the monument's base.

Dr. David R. Smith, president of Brewton-Parker, and Dr. T.N. Retif, distinguished professor of music and chairman of the college's Centennial Celebration steering committee, unveiled the 12-foot obelisk monument during a morning ceremony in the plaza of the Fountain-New Library.

A stone instructing Brewton-Parker family members to open the vault on the 150th anniversary date on April 28, 2054, will cover the time capsule, which will be entombed at a later time so items can be included from the daylong Centennial Celebration.

"We come to dedicate a monument to commemorate the vast and lasting significance of the role that Brewton-Parker College has played in and through the lives of those who have been touched here and beyond," said Dr. Allen Hughes, chairman of the Brewton-Parker Board of Trustees and administrative pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula.

June and Doyle NeSmith of Lyons stand by the Centennial Monument at Brewton-Parker College, which the NeSmiths donated to mark the college's Centennial Celebration. The monument was unveiled and dedicated in the Fountain-New Library plaza during Brewton-Parker's Centennial Celebration on April 28 on the BPC campus in Mount Vernon. (BPC Photo by Charles Conkin)

Doyle and June NeSmith of Lyons donated the 12-foot granite obelisk as a visible reminder of the 100-year observance for generations to come.

"They are folks without whom the college would not be what it is today," said Dr. Albert Sidney Johnson, professor of political science and vice president emeritus, who served as master of ceremonies for the event.

"We felt it was an appropriate and timely project, and we were delighted to give a token contribution to the Centennial Celebration," said Doyle NeSmith, a member of the Brewton-Parker Board of Trustees.

NeSmith said he was excited to learn that the selected design was an obelisk and appears to him as a smaller-scale version of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

"I have been a big admirer of George Washington," he said. "Let's hope it remains there for 100 years."

Hughes explored Brewton-Parker's first 100 years during his dedicatory address, beginning by listing some of the milestones of 1904 such as the creation of the first ice cream cone, a land speed record of 65.79 mph, the beginning of construction on Grand Central Station in New York City and the adoption of the official rules of baseball.

"In that same year, a man by the name of Dr. John Carter Brewton, pastor of the First Baptist Church of McRae, along with the financial backing of Mr. Charles B. Parker, who was a prominent businessman and deacon in McRae, realized the dream of opening a school to provide Christian higher education in south Georgia. Only Heaven would be able to record the lasting significance of the events that took place on this campus beginning a century ago," Hughes said.

"Through these 100 years, two world wars, two stock market disasters, times of prosperity in our country and on this campus, as well as times of crisis in our country and on this campus, men and women have migrated to this school to be trained, challenged and inspired to go out from here into the world to make a lasting impact for the cause of Christ.

"By God-designed providence, these students left this campus to become physicians, attorneys, pastors, missionaries, businessmen and businesswomen, engineers, teachers, homemakers, athletes and other community leaders. The magnitude of their impact can never be fully recognized in this world."

Hughes also revealed biblical support in Joshua 4 for establishing "such a memorial of God's continued hand of blessing."

"Today, as we dedicate this monument and this time capsule, we do so as an act of praise and recognition of the bountiful blessings of God for providing and preserving the rich heritage of Brewton-Parker College through the lives of those who have been touched and changed as they spent time on this campus," Hughes said.

Dr. Kevin McCranie, an assistant professor of history at Brewton-Parker, introduced several of the items that will be placed into the time capsule while Shannon Bull, assistant to the director of the library, displayed them to the ceremony attendees.

"We have decided to leave a reminder for the school in 50 years, so we decided that it would be made in the form of a time capsule," McCranie said. "We wanted items that epitomized our institution."

Among the items Bull displayed and McCranie described was a piece of a cherry tree that, as college tradition dictates, shaded the trustees meeting at which the charter was signed on April 28, 1904, in establishing Union Baptist Institute, a school for grades 1-11.

Other items displayed included photos of Dr. Brewton and Mr. Parker, along with old and present-day photos of Gates Hall -- the last remaining original building among the three completed for the school's opening in September 1905 -- and the Arch, built in 1934, which McCranie described as "The two most important landmarks on the campus."

Also to be included in the time capsule is a team photo and autographed baseball of the 1997 Barons baseball team, which won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championship.

Letters of greeting to the Brewton-Parker family of 2054 from President Smith and Joshua Hartley, a junior from Sandersville who serves as Student Government Association president, along with other letters from area and state politicians also will be buried in the capsule.

Copies of two compositions commissioned for the Centennial Celebration also will be included in the time capsule: "The Ministry of Education," a poem written by Dr. Harry M. Bayne, associate professor of English in Brewton-Parker's Division of Arts and Letters; and the music for "Train Your Mind, Follow Your Heart," an anthem composed by Dr. Glenn Eernisse, chair of Brewton-Parker's Music Division.

Other items include submittals from respective college divisions and departments and the extended college community.

"This capsule does not only look at what has been done, they are testimonials to that which is yet to unfold on this campus," Hughes said of both the monument and time capsule. "They are set today with a vision and a hope and a faith that God will do even greater things in the future than we have ever seen Him do before. I believe that you share this commitment and this faith that all of the blessings of God that we have seen take place on this campus are just a prelude of what we are going to see God unfold in the future of Brewton-Parker College.

"This monument and this capsule stand today to declare that on this day, we gather together to pledge that Brewton-Parker College will continue to shine as a beacon in Christian higher education. It promises that young men and women from literally around the globe can come to this campus to receive the finest in education set in the context of a solid Christian worldview, and that they can then leave this place with a task to go out into the world and to make a genuine impact for the cause of our Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

"To that end and to the glory of God today, we dedicate this memorial-and this time capsule for that purpose."

Dr. Albert Sidney Johnson (at podium), professor of political science and vice president emeritus at Brewton-Parker College, presides over a ceremony at which the college's Centennial Monument was unveiled and dedicated in the Fountain-New Library plaza during Brewton-Parker's Centennial Celebration April 28 on the BPC campus in Mount Vernon. (BPC Photo by Charles Conkin)
Shannon Bull (right), assistant to the director of the library at Brewton-Parker College, holds a piece of the cherry tree that, according to college tradition, shaded the signing of the charter that began Union Baptist Institute on April 28, 1904, while Dr. Kevin McCranie, assistant professor of history, provides description of the tree and of other items that will be placed in a time capsule to be opened on Brewton-Parker's 150th anniversary in 2054. The time capsule will be buried next to the Centennial Monument, which was unveiled and dedicated during Centennial Celebration events on April 28 on the campus in Mount Vernon. (BPC Photo by Charles Conkin)