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Chisholm Church draws big crowd for 100th anniversarycomment (0)

June 3, 2010

By Greg Heyman

Chisholm Baptist Church saw a marked increase in attendance when it celebrated its 100th anniversary April 25.

On an average Sunday, between 45 and 55 people attend worship but approximately 425 attended the Montgomery Baptist Association church’s centennial celebration, according to Pastor Robert Bradley.

“We were so excited to see so many people coming back. It was just like a family reunion,” said Henryette Bailey, who has been a member of the church since 1949.

“Everybody was so excited about seeing old friends,” Bailey added.

Many friends did indeed come back to Chisholm Baptist that day, including Andrew Smith, who delivered the morning message.

On Sept. 11, 1949, Smith was licensed to preach by the church. He went on to serve as pastor of churches in Alabama and Florida and Sunday School director for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).

Another friend who returned for the landmark occasion was Kenny Hoomes, who led worship. Hoomes, associate pastor for spiritual maturity/senior adults of First Baptist Church, Montgomery, served Chisholm Baptist as minister of music and education from 1983 to 1987.

While Gov. Bob Riley did not attend the anniversary service, he did send a letter of recognition that was read to the congregation. Chisholm Baptist was also recognized by the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission, which presented a plaque.

A catered lunch, singing and a time of sharing testimonies followed the service.

According to historical records, the church was organized Feb. 13, 1910, with 32 charter members. Meetings were held in a building at the corner of Lower Wetumpka Road and Michigan Avenue.

In anticipation of building its own house of worship, the congregation purchased an organ in November 1910 — seven months before a building committee began its work. Subsequently a lot was purchased at 2938 Lower Wetumpka Road, and deacon J.D. Brooks and his sons began hauling lumber to the site.

The first service held in the new building was Brooks’ funeral in December 1915. At the time, the building had only a subfloor and chairs had to be brought in for seating.

Chisholm Baptist’s history tells of how the congregation ministered to servicemen and their relatives during World War I because the U.S. War Department had designated Montgomery as a mobilization center. 

Montgomery also was the site for the 2,000-acre Camp Sheridan, to which soldiers from Ohio were assigned. Not only did soldiers from the camp attend services at the church but their relatives also attended when they came to Alabama for visits. 

The SBOM, with assistance from its counterpart in Ohio and the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board), helped the church to call J.M. Blankenship as full-time pastor. He also served as camp pastor.

When the camp was dismantled at the end of the war in 1918, the lumber was salvaged and purchased to build a pastorium, which was completed in 1919.

When the United States found itself in another world war in the 1940s, the church sold its bell in response to a plea for scrap iron to help in the war effort. 

Near the end of the war, on Feb. 12, 1945, the church was damaged beyond repair by a tornado. As a result, congregants met in several locations — members’ homes, Chisholm Methodist Church and Chisholm Elementary School — until a new facility could be completed on the same site.

In May 1946, services were held in the new building, which had only a subfloor and a few partitions between classrooms, no ceiling and no light fixtures. Construction was completed later and the congregation continues to meet in that building.

At the peak of the church’s ministry, 142 people were baptized in 1948. The next year, 139 people were baptized.

In addition, the church history shows that more than 100 people were baptized for three consecutive years in the 1960s and Sunday School attendance was at its highest in 1964 with 465 people.

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