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100-year-old College Park to move, change namecomment (0)

October 22, 2009

By Greg Heyman

Jane Brock has been a member of College Park Baptist Church, Eight Mile, for 58 years — long enough to see it through two name changes. And she said she’s looking forward to a third one.
The Mobile Baptist Association church plans to construct a facility on 18 acres on Celeste Road in Saraland, less than 10 miles from its current location. And once it does, its name will become Chapel Hill Baptist Church.

But the congregation’s upcoming move wasn’t the cause for celebration Sept. 13. It was celebrating its 100th anniversary. More than 450 people attended the anniversary service — twice the number who normally gathers for Sunday morning worship. Robert White, pastor from 1983 to 1985, was the guest speaker. Though the church celebrated a century of ministry, it actually dates to 1907. It was then that about 20 people began meeting for afternoon Sunday School classes in a small building known as “Barker’s Church.”

In 1908, a letter about organizing a missionary Baptist church in the area was sent to the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board). That led to an organizational meeting the following year. Records indicate the meeting was held July 8, 1909, on the front porch of Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Whiteman’s home on North Wilson Avenue in Prichard.

And that was where what began as Prichard Baptist Church met for months. It wasn’t until 1922 that the congregation purchased a lot at the corner of Clark and Holmes streets in Prichard so it could build its first facility.

The year of the church’s 50th anniversary, its name was changed to First Baptist Church, Prichard. In 1961, it dedicated its auditorium and educational unit.

In 1976, the congregation voted to sell its building. The next year, it purchased 14 acres of land on College Parkway in Eight Mile, where its current building stands.

The first service in that building was held on Easter 1979, at which time the church’s name was changed to College Park Baptist.

Mike Bedford, pastor of the church for the last 14 years, said the reason for relocating once again is that College Park is located in an area that is not growing now. Moving to Saraland is expected to provide more open doors for ministry.

“We believe when we move there that there will be a greater opportunity because there will be more folks around us and we can reach more,” Bedford said.

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