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FBC Abbeville celebrates 175 yearscomment (0)

July 23, 2009

By Deirdra Drinkard

What began as a mission church in the 1800s has ministered to people and influenced Baptist life in Henry County for nearly 200 years now. That mission — now known as First Baptist Church, Abbeville — celebrated its 175th anniversary May 17. During the celebration, members of the Judson Baptist Association church gathered in their 1904 brick building.

As part of the festivities, Joe Talmadge, a commissioner with the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission, presented a certificate commemorating 175 years of ministry and Henry County historian P. Larry Smith shared about the church’s origins.

First, Abbeville, was begun in 1834 as a mission of First Baptist Church, Lawrenceville, which no longer exists.

At one time, the then-Primitive Baptist church met in a lodge that it shared with the local Methodists. Because early records of the church no longer exist, it is unknown exactly how long First, Abbeville, met in this location.
Helping start an association

Just 16 years after it was formed, First, Abbeville, became a founding member of Judson Association.

Martha Espy, church clerk and secretary, said First, Abbeville, has played a big role in the association’s survival over the years. Because church members were encouraged to give sacrificially, First, Abbeville, was able to collect more than the combined total of other associational churches’ offerings at the turn of the 20th century. This allowed the church to support the association generously.

During the celebration, Pastor Michael Whitt gave the congregation three charges for continuing the work of First, Abbeville. First, the church should love the Lord with all its heart, soul and mind. Second, church members should remember that they are Baptists, that they believe in the Bible and that it is eternal. Third, members must see the church as an organism, not an organization, and thus invest their lives into it.

Ryan Johnson, associate and youth pastor of First, Abbeville, said, “Now, as we have recommitted to the mission that God has called us to as His church, we will not simply stand in awe of history past. But we will push forward and celebrate that by the power and grace of God, we are on the brink of history future.”

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