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Coffee Springs church celebrates 75 yearscomment (0)

October 27, 2005

By Martine G. Bates

Each fall, former and current members of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, Coffee Springs, in Sardis Baptist Association gather for a homecoming celebration. This year’s meeting held special meaning as the congregation marked its 75th year.  
Pastor Earl Wise thinks the church may be even older than 75 years. Although Wise cannot find documentation, he has talked to older members of the community who indicate that the church may be nearer 100 years old. Wise, who grew up in the community, said the church was once surrounded by tenant farmers. During its heyday in the 1940s, the church had so many young people that Sunday School classes were held outside.  
As farm equipment became more available, the need for human labor faded, and the tenant farmers moved away. Little evidence was left of the once thriving community. Coffee Springs now has a population that Wise estimates to be around 250. 
James Preachers, director of missions for Sardis Association, was pastor of the church for a short time in the ’70s. Preachers said the church has had its ups and downs but continues to focus on evangelism. “The church’s greatest contribution is having a Baptist witness in the community for 75 years,” he said. 
The congregation is small, with less than 10 in Sunday School and 12 to 20 in worship, but new people are moving into the area. Wise has a strategy for reaching them. “When people move in, we try to be there,” he said. “The people in the church are loving and kind.” 
Wise noted the members are also generous. “The church gave an offering of $1,300 to storm [Hurricane Katrina] victims,” he said.  “And for the last two years, we have been recognized for giving the most to the Cooperative Program per capita.”
The church put up a new sign, installed new lights and bought new tables for the fellowship hall in anticipation of the celebration day and they were not disappointed.  Wise estimated attendance to be between 75 and 100. 
The daylong celebration included preaching, a reading of the church history, singing and dinner on the ground. The Alabama Baptist Historical Commission presented a plaque to the church in recognition of its years of service. 
The celebration theme reflected Mount Carmel Baptist’s direction: “A living church is one that remembers the past, lives in the present, and works for the future.” 
“We want to be a lighthouse to the community,” Wise said. “We want to reach a lost and dying world by putting into practice what the Lord taught.” 

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