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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

FBC Montevallo marks 150 years; seeking Godís direction for futurecomment (0)

August 17, 2006

By Erin W. Tunnell


During the past 150 years, the congregation of First Baptist Church, Montevallo, in Shelby Baptist Association has met in various buildings of many shapes and sizes and at several locations. But church leaders say the church itself has remained constant, its members steadfastly dedicated to the Lord and His work.
   
“I think it’s a strength of our church that our church is very ministry-oriented, both within the family of the church and also … within our community,” said Pastor Bart Kingsley, noting how members minister to each other in crises and take part in community missions projects.
   
First, Montevallo, celebrated those years of ministry Aug. 6 with an anniversary homecoming service and a meal. Former members and pastors mingled with the current members, exchanging memories, as well as hopes for the future.
   
“We celebrate this anniversary with a strong awareness that God has, does and will lead. Our task is to follow,” said William T. “Dub” Edwards Jr., a former interim pastor who was the day’s guest speaker.
   
The homecoming committee, led by Regina Burch and Carl Edfeldt, developed a church history, complete with copies of handwritten minutes from historic church meetings, for the occasion. A display of past church histories, photos and memorabilia also was set up for church members to take a peek at the past.
   
“Bringing all this (memorabilia) out helped me learn more about (the church),” said deacon Reuben Burch.
   
First, Montevallo, began Aug. 30, 1856, with a handful of members. It met in different locations until finally constructing a brick building at the corner of Main and Middle streets in downtown Montevallo in 1911. Since then, it has added onto and renovated the building numerous times to house the church’s now  164 members.
   
Edfeldt, a member of First, Montevallo, for more than 50 years, said two of the biggest changes he has noticed have been in the areas of worship and college students. 
   
When he joined, the church had a more formal style of worship. In recent years, contemporary choruses have been added to the traditional hymns and the style of dress has relaxed a little.
   
First, Montevallo, also had a large college ministry to students at the nearby University of Montevallo, Edfeldt said, to the point that the church built a Baptist student center in the 1960s. Although that attendance has dwindled, Edfeldt believes First, Montevallo, will grow in the future, especially as the city grows and the church reaches out to that expanding community. 
   
Plaques were presented by the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and Shelby Association, recognizing the church’s contributions to Alabama Baptists since its inception. 
   
The church’s contributions to the community were recognized by Montevallo Mayor Sharon Anderson, who declared the month of August to be Montevallo First Baptist Church Sesquicentennial Month.
   
But the church is not content to rest on its laurels, Kingsley said. “We’re seeking God’s guidance and direction for the future of the church.” 
   
Currently First, Montevallo, has been looking at the possibility of planting a new church in Shelby County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the area, he noted.
   
Kingsley said he would also like to see the church members become even more involved in missions work and evangelism.
   
Edfeldt said he hopes that First, Montevallo, will “still have many dedicated Christians willing to do the job and spread Christianity.”

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