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Fairford’s Liberty celebrates its 100th anniversarycomment (0)

September 30, 2010

By Sammie Jo Barstow

Attendance at Liberty Baptist Church, Fairford, more than quadrupled Aug. 29, when the Washington Baptist Association church celebrated its 100th anniversary.

More than 220 people gathered for the landmark occasion at the church, which generally averages fewer than 50 in its Sunday morning worship service.

Mark Dunn — pastor of Rockville Baptist Church, Jackson, in Clarke Baptist Association, whose father, Robert, served his first pastorate at Liberty Baptist in the early 1950s — preached the celebration sermon.

“It speaks well of the church that so many people returned to celebrate the anniversary,” Dunn said. “This church has always been faithful to its mission of sharing the gospel.”

During the celebration, Michael Scarborough, music minister at Thomasville Baptist Church in Clarke Association, led the special music.

Former Liberty member Reggie Young played piano. Also Jack Wright, District 7 Commissioner for the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission, presented a plaque to Pastor Larry Thompson and the three oldest deacons: John Young, Robert Evans and Earl Pugh.

For this special occasion, Thompson’s wife, Wilene, collected more than 400 photographs to create a pictorial history of the church, which was shown during the celebration.

The church traces its history to the early 1900s, when Baptists in the Fairford community near McIntosh had to travel to nearby Citronelle, Calvert and Redbud (now named Malcolm) to attend church. Recognizing the need for a church in their own community, 10 Fairford residents met Aug. 21, 1910, in the home of John C. Jones to organize Liberty Baptist Church.

They also agreed to call William E. Bradley as their pastor.

By the end of 1910, 14 new members had joined. Membership had increased to 53 by 1929.

Shortly after the church was formed, its first building was constructed on land across the street from the current site. That first structure contained 20 handmade pews.

Evans, who has been a member of Liberty for 65 years, recalled having Sunday School under a large tree when he was a child and that the church was heated with a wood stove during the winter.

In 1947, a new concrete block church was completed across the street. Some of the original lumber was used in the new building, which boasted electric lights, gas heaters and window fans.

In 1976, a brick sanctuary was added to the block building, and a fellowship hall followed in 2000.

Some of the handmade pews from the original building can be found in the fellowship hall.

Young, whose 72-year membership is a church record, has seen many of the changes that have come about at Liberty. But through the decades, one thing has remained constant: the congregation’s willingness to meet needs in Jesus’ name.

“Over the years, our church has been able to help numerous families that were having bad financial trouble, and we still continue to do that,” Young said.

Of course, helping those in need opens the door for the church to accomplish its ultimate purpose.
“We have a mandate to win the world for Christ,” Thompson said.

“And Liberty Baptist wants to do our part in making Christ known.”

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