Walker Association church marks 100 yearscomment (0)
November 17, 2005
By Sondra Washington
One hundred years ago, three Walker County families united and formed Fern Springs Baptist Church, Eldridge, with few members and a small log building on donated land.
Although the church’s beginnings were humble, it has grown in size through the years.
On Oct. 23, more than 150 current and former members and pastors gathered at Fern Springs Baptist to commemorate 100 hundred years of dedicated service to the Lord.
“We were just very elated about the celebration,” said Pastor C.R. Hood, who has led the church for nearly four years.
“This is my fifth church, and those people and the people of the community are some of the most wonderful people my wife and I have ever met. They hold on to the good-old customs, traditions and moral values that the Scripture teaches.”
The congregation decorated the church with old-time quilts, oil lamps, documents and pictures, according to Nancy Lynn, who helped organize the celebration.
“A church committee put together a centennial cookbook to commemorate our anniversary,” Lynn said. “We presented a cookbook and certificate to the two former pastors (who were present) and their wives.”
She added that certificates from the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission, Alabama Baptist State Convention and Walker Baptist Association were presented to the church.
Speakers during the celebration remembered the church’s rich history, which began when Reece Colburn, the first pastor, donated an acre of land for the church building and cemetery, Lynn said. The first building on the site was known affectionately as Bump Head.
“This was because the men always bumped their heads upon entering it,” she said. “It had two front doors and steps all the way across. The benches were made by some of the men. We used kerosene lamps and coal heaters. The water supply came from a fresh-water spring surrounded by natural-growing ferns — hence came the name.”
According to Lynn, in the beginning, times were hard for the church, which occasionally had no money to pay the preacher.
“They would be given anything that anyone had extra,” she said. “There was really no designated day of worship. It was held whenever a preacher could be available.
“We had no baptistry for years, and baptizing would take place in New River, Mallard Creek or a nearby pond,” Lynn said. “We joined the Walker Baptist Association in 1962, before that we were a member of the Marion County Association. Because we are so close to the county line, they had to determine which county we were in.”
Through the years, Fern Springs undertook many construction projects including a green block building in 1956, a new auditorium in 1960 and pastorium in 1976. Along with the new facilities came other advancements including electricity, gas heating, a water pump and indoor restrooms.
“Later improvements included additional classrooms, a kitchen, a baptistry and a steeple,” Lynn said. “We have in the past year made more improvements.”
Hazel Tittle, a direct descendent of Colburn, has been a member of Fern Springs for more than 70 years. She is proud to attend the church where eight generations of her family have attended through the years — members from four generations are buried in the church cemetery and three younger generations are still active members.
“It makes you feel good,” Tittle said. “We had a great day (during the celebration). Everybody is so touched and so proud of it. We comment all the time that we don’t know what we would do without our church family.”
Lynn added, “The Lord has richly blessed Fern Springs Church since its original log building, standing as a beacon way back in a little country town on a winding country road. Though considered small in membership, our reputation for being a God-fearing, loving and caring church is far reaching beyond our community.
“The mission of Fern Springs Church continues to win souls to Christ through love, loyalty, dedication and service to mankind,” she said. “We humbly thank God for the opportunity to serve Him these 100 years and pray for His continued blessings and divine guidance.”