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Gilbertown’s Chappell Hill celebrates 125 years with double attendancecomment (0)

September 16, 2010

By Ashley Anderton

Attendance almost doubled at Chappell Hill Baptist Church, Gilbertown, on Aug. 15.

An estimated 65 people gathered to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Choctaw Baptist Association church, which normally has an attendance of 35.

Bill Jackson, a former interim pastor of Chappell Hill Baptist, delivered the morning message. Franklin McLelland, director of missions for Choctaw Association, presented a plaque on behalf of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and provided special music.

Afterward those in attendance enjoyed a potluck meal in the fellowship hall.

For longtime member Pam May, the church is like “home.”

Her great-grandparents Asa and Monerva Stewart were among Chappell Hill’s 11 charter members.

“The Lord has blessed our family by letting us be a part of Chappell Hill. For this, I give Him praise,” May said.

Pastor Jason Reasor wants the church to be a blessing to younger adults — those under 40 — and their children.

“I’ve been surprised at the amount of young people not active in church in our community,” Reasor said. “I want children to see what it’s like to walk with God.”

Reaching young families is such a priority, in fact, that Chappell Hill and three other Choctaw Association churches — Gilbertown Baptist; Spring Bank Baptist, Silas; and Cullomburg Baptist — coordinated an Independence Day celebration with food, fun and fireworks to attract them.

Attendance was expected to be around 100, but about 500 showed up for the event.

Of course, Chappell Hill has quite a legacy of children’s involvement. For starters, children in the community 125 years ago were at the church almost every day. The first building, used for both school and church, was a one-room log cabin with dirt floors and spilt-log benches.

Until 1910, members worshiped in that cabin, which was on a site behind Chappell Hill’s current fellowship hall.

That year, the state constructed a new school building a short distance away and worship services were moved there. Every Friday afternoon, the children cleaned the school in preparation for Sunday worship services.

In 1927, mule teams cleared the original site and destroyed the log cabin to prepare for a new church building, which was completed the following year.

The present structure was finished in 1962. In 2000, the sanctuary carpet, lights and furniture were updated.

Now the congregation is focused on re-establishing its children’s missions programs (Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors) and beginning a youth group, Reasor said.

“If we don’t reach the children now, what will happen in this community in 15 years?” he asked.

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