Eastern Hills Baptist celebrates 50 yearscomment (0)
December 21, 2006
By Alicia Morris Atcheson
Jesus said that a city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
And that’s just where Eastern Hills Baptist Church, Montgomery, was placed, according to Pastor Rick Marshall.
“[It] was literally placed on a hill, the highest spot in Montgomery. A storm blew away the tent where the church first met, but nothing has ever shaken the foundations of this great church,” he told the 1,100 in attendance as the Montgomery Baptist Association church celebrated its 50th anniversary Dec. 3.
The service included guests from across the state and performances by the sanctuary, youth and handbell choirs. A song was commissioned specifically for the anniversary, which the sanctuary choir performed to open the service.
Prior to the morning service, church members enjoyed a time of fellowship during a brunch in the gymnasium, which was filled with displays of ministries covering the past five decades. Photos reflecting the ministry of the past 50 years flashed across the screens in the sanctuary and lined the halls of the church as well. As attendees entered the sanctuary, they were given a program highlighting milestones in the life of the church.
Eastern Hills Baptist was launched in 1955 by members of Capitol Heights Baptist Church, Montgomery, in Montgomery Association looking to sponsor a new church on 4.25 acres in the Forest Hills residential area of the city.
On June 10, 1956, the first worship service was conducted in a tent on the new church site. In September of that year, the tent was destroyed by Hurricane Flossie. The next month, the congregation dedicated its first permanent building, and one month after that, Eastern Hills Baptist Chapel was constituted as a church with 213 charter members. There were 302 members added within the first year. Today the church has about 3,000 members and its campus covers 16 acres.
In 1983, following in the steps of its parent church, Eastern Hills voted to sponsor Taylor Road Baptist Mission in east Montgomery. In 1985, the mission was constituted as Taylor Road Baptist Church. Flowers donated by Capitol Heights Baptist and Taylor Road Baptist in honor of the 50th anniversary were displayed in the sanctuary.
During the celebration service, Ken May, director of missions for Montgomery Association, thanked the congregation for its faithfulness over the past 50 years. Jim Jackson, chair of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission, presented the church with a plaque.
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, brought the morning message. “I am thankful to be at this historic church,” he said. “Even though you’ve only been around for 50 years, Eastern Hills Baptist is historic. No other church can say it has three former state convention presidents, and Taylor Road Baptist, the church you founded, has had one state convention president as well. You’ve also had one executive director of the convention, Dr. Earl Potts. So you have not only served the Montgomery Baptist Association well but have served the 3,300 churches in the state Baptist convention well.”
According to Marshall, the success of Eastern Hills’ ministry over the past five decades was dependent on the members’ faith and that will continue to be the catalyst for future ministry.
“The strength of our church has been in people marked by faith,” he said. “As impossible as it was to celebrate in one day all that 50 years represents, neither can we see all the potential God has for this fellowship in the years to come.”