The Little Brown Church In The Vale

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When Cody Barret was about 4 years old, he found some matches; he was curious.

Around the same time, Cody's sister, Tallie said Pastor Rick Reynolds was officiating services for Star Valley Southern Baptist Church inside the Diamond Star Fire Station.

A call came into the station alerting the staff that a child with matches had started a house fire.

Reynolds promised the little boy a ride on the fire engine if he would come to church three Sundays in a row.

Cody did -- and now he's a grown man. Whenever he visits Payson, he and Tallie still attend the same church in which they grew up.

Star Valley Southern Baptist (SVSB) became what is termed, a mission, from First Southern Baptist in Payson. SVSB held its first service on Father's Day, June 15, 1984 at the Diamond Star Fire Department.

Present lore tells its members that J. W. Floyd and his wife Vertielee were instrumental in starting the mission and acquiring the property in Star Valley. Vertielee's brother-in-law, Reynolds was the first pastor.

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Light comes in softly through the stained glass windows of Star Valley Baptist Church.

The church bought its current property in January 1985. In an unusual move, the congregation hired a company to dismantle a church in Mesa and reassemble it in Star Valley.

Over the last 21 years the church has retired or released several pastors to missionary work. The Rev. Roger Pike is their guest pastor for June and July.

"We are a small congregation, but we are highly dedicated," said church clerk Roma Davis.

The church has been given a variety of finishing touches over the years -- both big and small:

  • A library was added.
  • There are colorful stained glass flower windows created especially for the church by once local residents whose names have been forgotten.

"During the time that the Rev. E.L. Eudy was here he had an idea of how the pulpit should be made," said church member and trustee Les Johnson. "During Eudy's tenure we put in the communion table. Just lately the cross on the wall was constructed of some old wooden material from an oak banister railing we found under the church."

And the original wooden floors have been carpeted for some time.

Tallie remembered the wooden floors before they were covered.

"We always had wooden floors," said Bennett. "My shoes were a little too big. They would clunk on the floor when I walked and drove the ladies crazy."

Now she feels as though the congregation is part of her family.

The most recent renovation was the completion of the fellowship hall where the members hold a covered-dish potluck the last Sunday of each month.

The church's membership has fluctuated over the years. In spite of whatever comes their way, they abide by their motto, "Whatever it takes Lord ... we will do it!" The congregation remains dedicated to God and each other.

"God is the way to happiness," said Tallie of the reason she still attends her childhood church.

Star Valley Baptist Church is located 4 miles east of Payson on Highway 260. Sunday Bible study is at 9:30 a.m., followed by worship at 10:50 a.m. and 6 p.m. Vacation Bible school is offered this summer. Contact (928) 474-5557.

This story is another part of the Roundup's continuing series on how the churches in the Rim country add beauty and grace to our community.

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