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Montgomery’s Eastmont marks 150 years with overflowing crowdcomment (0)

September 16, 2010

By Sammie Jo Barstow

Despite several name changes, relocations and even a brush with foreclosure during the Great Depression, Eastmont Baptist Church, Montgomery, has remained strong and faithful.

On Aug. 15, more than 1,500 current and former members and friends packed the sanctuary and filled the choir loft to overflowing to celebrate the Montgomery Baptist Association church’s 150th anniversary. By comparison, Sunday School attendance averages 950.

Pastor Mike Northcutt said the anniversary service was not only a time of celebration but also affirmation as people were reunited with those they discipled years ago.

“Sometimes we forget how big God is and what all He’s done in our fellowship,” Northcutt said. “This celebration reminded us that He’s working very actively in who we are and what we do. ... We treasure our past. Yet the past is to be a guidepost, not a hitching post. We are even more excited about what God will do tomorrow.”

Gene McDonald, chairman of the church’s history committee, is focused on the future, too. 

“Eastmont Baptist seeks to continue to grow and to be a great ministry in the city of Montgomery,” he said.

During the service, the church received certificates from Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, and Lonette Berg, executive director of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission.

Charles Lowery, president of Lowery Institute for Excellence (LIFE) in Pilot Point, Texas, preached the sermon. LIFE is a nonprofit educational organization that seeks to encourage, inspire and motivate men and women through teaching the essential principles of success in the workplace, relationships and all areas of life.

According to the church history that was written by Cindy McDonald and published earlier this year, in 1860, 28 people requested release from First Baptist Church, Montgomery, in order to form a new church. On Dec. 9, Second Baptist Church was incorporated.

In 1864, the church dedicated a new building on the corner of Adams and Bainbridge streets and became Adams Street Baptist. After moving to Madison Avenue in 1925, the church was known as Citywide Baptist for a short time before being renamed Madison Avenue Baptist.

One family that joined the church after the Madison Avenue move remains part of the church today. Sarah Mae Head, 85, joined the church in 1934 and holds the record for the longest continuous membership.

Her brother, Carl Head, 81, a member since 1935, vividly remembers a time in the late 1930s when the church was nearing foreclosure. The man who held the mortgage, which had a balance of $10,000, said if the church could raise $5,000, then he would retire the debt.

According to Head, the church sold pies, cakes and barbecue and undertook other fund-raisers to satisfy the debt.

In 1946, the congregation voted to return to the original name.

In 1967, the church relocated to the Atlanta Highway and seven years later, became Eastmont Baptist. The present sanctuary was completed in 2000.

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