Mt. Calvary Baptist Church was founded in 1863 by seven black landowners during the height of the Civil War. A century and a half later the church is stronger than ever.

Church members gathered for a special service to commemorate its 150th anniversary Sunday.

"I'm just thankful to be a part of history because very few churches have the longevity, a church like this," Pastor Robert Freeman says.

Freeman has been with the church for five years. On its 150th anniversary he dedicated one of the congregation's staples, a bell that has been out of commission since 1961, when the church moved into its current building.

"Its like a symbol of faith that the people had," says Freeman.

Since the church was founded in 1863 the bell rang every time before service or to mark a big event.

"It was like a form of communication before cell phones, telephones, alarm clocks," Freeman says.

On Sunday it rang for the first time in more than 50 years.

Mt. Calvary Baptist now has about 60 members but church leaders say they're reaching out into the community in an attempt to welcome new members into the church.

"We just can't sit back and say we're here for 150 years. We're going to have to do the work of the church," says Freeman.