FBC Southside commemorates 150th anniversary with four-day celebrationcomment (0)
December 7, 2006
By Alicia Morris Atcheson
You can’t capture the majesty of the mountain from just one perspective. You have to walk around to see it from different views,” said Sam Day, pastor of First Baptist Church, Southside, in Etowah Baptist Association.
“In the same way, you can’t celebrate 150 years in just one day.” This is why his congregation chose to commemorate its 150th anniversary with a four-day celebration Oct. 22–25. “We wanted the celebration to be a process,” Day said.
“We wanted to approach the celebration from as many angles as possible — stories, pictures, fellowship, worship, music, inviting staff of the past to come participate, as well as celebrate the members who are making a difference elsewhere.”
Founded in 1856, the church was first called Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church. According to church records, the first building was a log structure. A frame building was constructed in 1900. As the congregation grew, other structures were built. Originally the congregation met on the first Saturday afternoon of each month but moved to full-time services in 1944. In 1969, the church was renamed First Baptist Church, Southside.
On the first day of the anniversary celebration, church members were encouraged to choose a specific era of the past 150 years and come dressed in the clothing of that day.
“I wore a poodle skirt because that was all the rage when I was a teenager,” church member Winona Whittington said. “Some folks came in bonnets, overalls, suits … That’s what made it so great because everyone could choose a time period that they liked best.”
During the Sunday morning service, the congregation honored Bessie Graham, 96, for being the oldest living member, as well as three other members who remained committed to First, Southside, throughout the years.
“We live in a generation where we need models of long-term commitments, so we highlighted these … individuals … celebrating their commitment to our church’s life,” Day said.
Graham’s commitment impressed Whittington, who said one of the greatest moments of the celebration for her was seeing Graham’s response upon being recognized. “When she was recognized, she praised God out loud for being alive and being here at Southside,” Whittington said. The luncheon that followed the service showcased photos from the past, and that night, the congregation celebrated through music with guest vocalist Richard Roberson.
Monday night kicked off a three-day revival that brought back former ministers and church members. Guest speakers included former pastor Charles Owens; David Denson, former church member and pastor of North Glencoe Baptist Church, Glencoe; and Joe Nix, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Altoona, who also serves as facilities manager at First, Southside.
Allen Hudson, former worship and youth leader, led the music each night of the revival.
Day said the celebration not only commemorated the past but also opened a new chapter in the church’s future.
“We were able to celebrate the fruit of our own church by bringing back members who grew up here and are now out spreading God’s Word. They all shared about their time here and did a great job of casting the vision for our church’s future,” he said. “I could feel the stirring of the flames for the vision God has for us in the future.”