Pell City church sees growth, ‘seeks to be closer to God’comment (0)
August 23, 2012
By Anna Keller
When Dale Foote preached his first sermon as pastor of Seddon Baptist Church, Pell City, in 1995 there were seven members in the congregation. Today the church counts 461 members.
Foote attributes the significant growth his church has seen over the last 17 years to its members’ vision and commitment.
“It hasn’t been fast growth — we’ve just done as much to meet as many people as we possibly could,” Foote said. “The old saying is you don’t ever get a second chance for a first impression, so we’ve always tried to put our best foot forward.”
And it appears that tactic has worked.
“Seddon Baptist has discovered that they can love one another and commit to the Great Commission and be the church on mission that God intends them to be,” said Ben Chandler, director of missions for St. Clair Baptist Association. “The atmosphere around Seddon is one of a holy buzz and a family love that’s attracting folks to become a part of the church.”
Foote, who started as a bivocational minister at Seddon Baptist, became the church’s full-time pastor when its membership reached 100. In the years since then the church has seen such significant growth that they are in need of a new building.
“Right now we have 12 Sunday School classes because that’s all we have room for — and that includes using the sanctuary as a meeting space between services,” Foote said. “It’s larger than it’s ever been, and there’s excitement here. We’re strategizing every day to find new room for a larger Sunday School program.”
The growth at Seddon goes beyond just member count. The average age of Seddon’s church members is quite young — 25 to 27 years old — and about 15 to 20 percent of their members are non-Caucasian.
“We have no ethnic barriers, and we work to minister to everybody,” Foote said. “Fellow pastors often ask how I’ve been able to diversify my church. I always tell them it wasn’t intentional, but that we just love on everybody. I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t see in colors.”
David Jones, the church’s associate pastor, is a testament to the church’s colorblind mentality. Jones — who is African-American — began attending Seddon in 2004 when his family was invited to visit by a friend of Jones’ daughter. At that time the Joneses were the only black family at Seddon, but that never made them feel out of place.
“I’ve taught my kids to grow up thinking that color isn’t important,” Jones said. “They grew up saying, ‘We’re clear!’”
In fact, Jones remembers jokingly, once a local woman asked where Jones went to church. He told her and described the building’s location. The woman asked, “Well, is it a white church?” Without realizing her question was related to race, Jones quickly responded, “No, it’s a brick building.”
“When I told the church about that, they laughed and laughed,” Jones said. “But that’s how our church is when it comes to race. It was never a barrier or something to overcome. We’re just a place full of people seeking to be closer to God.”