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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Ariton’s Elam Church celebrates 150 years, ‘big heart’ for communitycomment (0)

October 15, 2009


On Sept. 6, Elam Baptist Church, Ariton, was filled with about 130 people — more than triple its membership — celebrating 150 years of spreading God’s love to the community.

This Dale Baptist Association church, which has an active membership of 40, marked its anniversary by reading the church history and enjoying two singings.

“It’s really nice to see people in the community who went off and came back,” said Sybil Dawkins, who has been a member of the church for 56 years. “We must have been real good to them for them to come back.”

Interim Pastor Joe Underwood can testify to the congregation’s goodness. He said it has supported him greatly during the past six years. “They have a good sweet spirit,” Underwood said. “They are cooperative and treat everyone, including me and my family, really well.”

While the church is small, it has a big heart for reaching the community. For the past three years, Elam Baptist has partnered with eight other area churches — both black and white — to host a communitywide tent revival. These revivals have reached many people of all races. In addition to other joint ministries, this group of churches hosts a quarterly singing and an Easter sunrise service.  

And for Elam, it all began with nine charter members July 9, 1859.

The charter members held a revival the next month, during which 19 people joined the church. Four of those made professions of faith in Jesus Christ.

The church’s location has remained the same since its beginning. In 1951, the church building was torn down and rebuilt in about three months. The congregation continues to meet in this building. An education building was constructed in 1957, and in 1971, a house was moved onto the church’s property to serve as a pastorium. (TAB)

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