After more than 100 years, the Hevener Church still lifts up the faithful
Just as parishioners did nearly 100 years ago, families gathered at the Hevener Church on Back Mountain Road near Durbin to celebrate their faith and the church.
Once a year, members of the Brethren faith gather at the church for a reunion with a special program including singing and sharing.
The church was dedicated in 1904 and was the first Brethren church in Pocahontas County.
Hevener family descendant Gregory Hurd, of Greenbrier County, shared the history of the church and his family during the service.
"Long before the Civil War, a fellow that had been born up in Highland County, Virginia, by the name of Adam Hevener, Jr., had worked his way into the Broadway Timber area with the trade of blacksmith," Hurd said. "For some reason he decided to come back. Some said at the time there was a move to 'Go west young man, go west' and he decided, okay, he would try. He brought his family with him and his mother-in-law."
Hurd said Adam worked for Uriah Hevener and bought land from him on Back Mountain.
"They built an old two and a half story log house," he said. "There, his three sons and daughter grew up."
At some point in his life, according to Hurd, Adam was baptized a Dunkard. Several pastors came into the area from the Dunkard church and introduced the faith.
In 1900, Samuel, Harvey and David Hevener, Adam's sons, Samuel's sons Bob and John and Ben and William Collins, met under an apple tree and made plans for a church.
"They decided they needed, as they called it, a meeting house," Hurd explained. "The church was the congregation of believers and they wanted to build a meeting house."
The community put in the effort and in July 1904, the church was dedicated under the name Hevener.
Like all families, the Hevener family fell on hard times and moved away to make ends meet, but they always found their way back to Back Mountain.
"My grandmother [Samuel's daughter Lucy], like brother John Hevener, was a great storyteller," Hurd said. "I spent many a time as a child sitting by her bed listening to her tell stories about Hevener Church and Back Mountain and all the people up here. It must have been a great place, I always thought to myself. Hearing all these stories got me thinking it must really be heaven on earth, the Hevener Church."
After years of stories, Hurd finally made it to Back Mountain and experienced the area for himself.
"My grandmother always had to come up here every whipstitch and my mother would bring us. They loved to come up here at meeting time," he said. "Eventually, membership got down and it was closed, sadly. I would come back up here with my mother on her fall trip, she had to have that fall trip to Back Mountain or she couldn't make it through the winter. She would give me a story as I have today, kids."
Hurd also shared stories about church services and his appreciation to the Brethren churches for continuing the tradition of a reunion at the Hevener Church.
Others in attendance, including other members of the Hevener family, shared stories of the church and their experiences there.
As part of the special service, the Green Bank Senior Citizens choir sang several traditional songs of faith and Daniel Solliday gave the sermon.