A "Boots & Diamonds" 60th anniversary celebration was thrown for Village Chapel Free Will Baptist Church recently.
The Saturday, June 10 event drew approximately 100 persons and included a western-style barbecue and program highlighting the life of the church as well as its enduring pastor, Rev. Adrian Condit. Helping barbecue were members of the Condit family, including his son, retired Modesto Police Lt. Burl Condit.
"We had just a lot of fellowship and sharing memories," said Sheila Brandt, a member of the church who organized the celebration. "It was a very enjoyable evening."
A cake auction raised approximately $800 for the Alexander Cohen Hospice House in Hughson.
Village Chapel was formed by several families in May 1957 who met at the home of Bud and Johnny Jenkins for prayer and planning. The first worship service was held June 9, 1957 in the old Smyrna Hall with 39 in attendance. A total of 27 charter members were a part of the church when it was formally organized later that month.
Joe Mooneyham was the church's first pastor, serving until 1967. He helped guide the building of the current church structure on North Central Avenue in 1959.
Among those in attendance was former Pastor John Smith who came up from San Diego. Other pastors over the church's 60 years included Jim Michael, John Hibbard and Nuel Brown.
Village Chapel, a small church across from Caswell Elementary School, is the reason Adrian Condit and his family landed in Ceres. The church called Adrian Condit to pastor in August 1967 from Tulsa, Oklahoma and he stayed 16 years until he made a change in 1983 when Memorial Medical Center hired him as chaplain. Condit spent 21 years at Memorial. The Condits started worshiping at Village Chapel again where Marcus Minkler had been pastor. Adrian had vowed, after retirement, to keep busy in a pastoral role preaching at funerals or filling pulpits "now and then."
"I wasn't going to quit preaching as long as there's a place for me to preach, as long as I can," said Condit. "I had no idea that I'd be back pastoring the church."
When Minkler left the church in 2008, Adrian Condit was called to be pastor. He brought back more of the old hymns that many of the older members liked and numbers steadily increased.
Condit sees himself continuing to pastor at the church "until the Lord gets through with me."
"I'm just here because of Him. I've always loved what I'm doing for all these years."
Earlier this year Rev. Condit lost his wife, former high school sweetheart Jean Condit to death.