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Dunnís Creek Church marks 175 years of ministry in Echolacomment (0)

October 15, 2009

By Stacey Shields

As Dunn’s Creek Baptist Church, Echola, celebrated 175 years of ministry Aug. 23, members and guests had the opportunity to delve into the Sipsey Baptist Association church’s history by reading the minutes of business meetings on display.

“Everyone just couldn’t get over how much history we had in our church,” said JoAnn Burkhalter, a 56-year member of Dunn’s Creek Baptist.

Church historian and 73-year member Dorothy Sullivan said while the old minutes are hard to read, they are interesting.

“[It] amazed me in reading the minutes that in the first 20 years, they excluded people from the church when certain rules were broken: working on Sundays, dancing, going to parties, horse swapping on Sunday, hosting a party, singing love songs.

“There wouldn’t be anyone in our church now,” she said jokingly.

The anniversary festivities also included a slide show, covered-dish lunch and a worship service, during which Max Stripling, director of missions for Sipsey Association, brought the message. Both he and his father, Erskin Stripling, served Dunn’s Creek Baptist as pastor.

Approximately 165 attendees were present at the celebration, including 15 individuals who have been members of the church for more than 50 years. There are currently 119 members.

Dunn’s Creek Baptist was founded Aug. 30, 1834, after three area pastors — Meady White, Holland W. Middleton and Jesse Thomas — and 11 other people saw the need for a church in their community. They began to meet the first Sunday of every month in a log cabin, unless the nearby creek was too high or the weather was bad.

In 1893 and 1894, a wooden meetinghouse was built at a cost of $188.91 in a location believed to be near where the log cabin sat. In 1937, the congregation also began meeting in an additional building next to the wooden meetinghouse. All the while, the local creek, river and lakes were used for baptismal services.

A remodeling project in the 1970s not only added a baptistry but also merged the two buildings into the present facility.

Throughout the years, the church has made contributions to the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, International Mission Board, North American Mission Board and Sipsey Association.

In the last four years, Dunn’s Creek Baptist has been recognized as one of the association’s top contributors to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, giving 36 percent per capita. 

“It’s just a blessing to serve a church like that,” said current Pastor Henry Trull, who grew up in the Echola community.

Trull served as pastor of various churches for 46 years before retiring and returning to Echola. He has been pastor of Dunn’s Creek Baptist since 2006.

“[The church] wanted me to be a part of it, and it blessed my soul to be called as a pastor there,” Trull said.

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