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FBC Brewton marks 150 years of ministrycomment (0)

December 2, 2004

By Lauren Brooks

Instead of entertaining current and former members at its 150th anniversary celebration, First Baptist Church, Brewton, hosted disaster relief workers the third weekend in September.

Thanks to the appearance of an uninvited guest — Hurricane Ivan — First, Brewton, had to postpone its scheduled Sept. 19 celebration to Nov. 14. But this was nothing new to the church.

During the last 150 years First, Brewton, has had its share of trouble.

In 1875 high waters prevented services from being held and in 1899 the church’s doors froze when the temperature dropped below freezing. A fire in 1923 destroyed the church, and later in 1973 the chapel’s ceiling fell in which necessitated a complete renovation.

Although Hurricane Ivan damaged the steeple and roof, Pastor Jack Fitts, church members and staff remained thankful.

“We were all so disappointed since we had the celebration for Sunday all ready and prepared,” said Annie Ruth Nolin, a longtime member who helped on the anniversary steering committee.

But “we had a great day (in November) and everyone was pleased about how it turned out.”

The only differences between the two Sundays were slightly colder weather and the fact that fewer were able to attend.

“We still ate outside although it was a little chilly,” said Associate Pastor Ron Headley who chaired the steering committee. “There were probably about 100 people who were planning on coming in September who couldn’t come in November.”

A day of worship, singing, eating, fellowshiping and visiting was enjoyed by the more than 500 who attended the sesquicentennial anniversary celebration.

Honoring the past

In the morning worship service, descendants of the founding members of First, Brewton, were present and recognized were some former pastors, members and members who were called into full-time Christian ministry.

On behalf of the church, Fitts received presentations from Headley, Pat Andrews, Escambia Association director of missions, Brewton’s Mayor Ted Jennings and Dale Huff of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

“Anyone who had made a profession of faith at this church or who has been called into full-time ministry was asked to stand,” Nolin said.

“It shows our church has had quite an influence in Brewton, the county and the state.”

One special highlight was the unveiling of a commissioned painting of the church. Artist Louise Garrett, longtime member of the church, painted the scene.

“The singing after lunch was the climax,” Nolin said. “It was a great way to end the day.”

To commemorate the day, booklets titled “Bridging the Gaps” and bookmarks were distributed to everyone who attended.

Headley said the church has adopted “Bridging the Gaps” as its official ministry motto. “We want to find and assimilate people into our church,” Headley said. “We want to help bridge gaps in relationships, families and in other areas.”   

As for the next 150 years for the church, Headley says he hopes its members remain steadfast. 

“We’re trying to continue the legacy of our church,” Headley said. “We want to improve, continue and expand our ministries.”

First, Brewton, began Sept. 17, 1854, in a home in Alco where 12 people had gathered and pledged to organize a church they named Pilgrim Rest.

In 1881, the church moved to Brewton and in 1887 changed its name to First Baptist Church, Brewton.         

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