Cameron Baptist Church Grows From Humble Roots
By ALAN OLSON
CAMERON — Over the past 30 years, Cameron Baptist Church outgrew its walls twice before stabilizing at its current size, and the second senior pastor to take up the mantle says it has ingrained itself as a staple of the community.
Pastor Michael Kelley has served the church for nine years — six as a youth pastor and three as senior pastor — and stressed its community involvement, from the recurring annual events which have become a major tradition to assisting the larger community in times of disaster.
“This is a very community-based church — that’s one of our main goals is that we want to give back to the community,” Kelley said. “We don’t ever want to be in a position where we’re taking from the community, only to give.”
Following summer floods that devastated parts of Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties, Kelley said the church not only hosted out-of-town volunteers but also sent congregants to assist in Hundred with cleaning mud and muck from houses.
“We had three separate teams go — two men who were chaplains; one team who went and completely mudded out a guy’s house, ripped up drywall and the floors, everything; and a third team that went and helped a lady who got flood water but all her appliances were still in there. And that was the first day.”
“This lady, she had a floor where we had two teams come in who couldn’t get the mud out. We took a bunch of guys with crowbars, pry bars, we ended up hurting our backs,” he laughed. “It was brutal, and it was so hot, but we gutted that person’s floors down so it could be rebuilt.”
Kelley said the church housed two teams from Samaritan’s Purse from out of town. Those folks used the church’s facilities as a home base while also assisting in Hundred and in McMechen, where they worked for two weeks.
Chief among the recurring community events, Kelley said, is the Great American Shootout, which takes place in the fall.
“It’s a time for guys to come together and sight their rifles for deer season, but we’ve made it a big festival,” Kelley said. “There’s meals, homemade apple butter we make around the kettle on a huge, 80-gallon kettle. … We make it a whole day festival where we come out, go have fun at the farm, shoot off a bunch of ammo, and then have a time of devotional. And whatever jar you bring, you get that much apple butter to take home for free.”
The shootout includes rifle, pistol and archery target and skeet shooting, and is a family event for nearly 75 people, just shy of 10 percent of Cameron’s 900 residents.
The current church building, situated on the southwest side of town on Squirrel Avenue, was built around 2002, but the services carry more than 30 years of tradition. Originally founded on a nearby hill in 1985, the congregation built the next iteration at what is now the Church of Christ shortly after.
The original church was spun off of Temple Baptist Church in Moundsville, founded by former pastor Ron McCoy who died in 2016. He founded the church in an old, unused building.
“He had this notion, ‘Let’s go start it back up.’ So he went up and started a Bible study with a few families, and those families still attend to this day,” Kelley said. “They started that church, brought in a different pastor who stayed long enough to get things moving until Ron took over. Ron pastored the church from the hill, to there, to here, and then I came along about 10 years ago, and I worked with him until he passed.”