About 150 people attended a celebrity bartender fundraiser Friday, Nov. 3, to benefit the Historic First Baptist Church restoration (HFBCR) project.
Jerry Holloway, owner of Brown Jerry’s Blues, Brews and Barbecue restaurant at 147 W. St. Louis St., offered the popular eatery to host the event, which raised $2,500 to help elevate and restore the church.
Herb Adams, Norbert Gildehaus, Brad Reed and Dave Sinclair joined the regular crew at Brown Jerry’s restaurant to serve up fun, drinks and community enthusiasm for the project.
Participants who came to show support included local business owners, civic leaders, elected officials past and present and community boosters.
“It was quite a turnout,” said Gildehaus, HFBCR committee co-chair. “We had a feeling it would be.”
The small frame church, which has served the African-American community since 1874, has flooded numerous times. The two most recent floods, in 2016 and 2017, left the small congregation with little hope of saving the structure.
Gildehaus and Bob Masson formed a committee of community leaders and turned to the public to help preserve the structure as a piece of community history and a place of worship.
The HFBCR committee wants to elevate the church sanctuary and education building above flood level so that it will never again be damaged by floodwater. The campaign had raised $15,300 prior to the bartender fundraiser.
On Saturday, Nov. 4, the HFBCR committee held a barbecue on the Reed Insurance parking lot, which raised another $900.
To date, the committee has raised a total of $18,700.
In addition to cash donations, half a dozen local building trades contractors have signed up to restore the interior of the structures at no cost to the committee.
“We’ve been blessed with all this community help,” Masson said. “But more funds are needed and we have several fundraisers in the works.”
Brad Reed, HFBCR committee member, organized both weekend events, as well as a $1,000 cash lottery that is currently underway.
Reed, who operates Reed Insurance at First and St. Louis Streets, has donated the use of his meeting room and parking lot for the effort.
“Brad’s commitment and enthusiasm has brought a lot of energy to this campaign,” Masson said.
Donations can be made to Historic First Baptist Restoration and delivered to Bank Star, 1999 W. Osage. People also can donate online to Historic First Baptist on the GoFundMe page.