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Holt Baptist Church upholds legacy of Christian outreachcomment (0)

November 18, 2004

By Cheryl Sloan Wray

During the past 100 years, a lot has changed; fashion trends have fluctuated, the world has expanded and inventions have altered everyday life. In Holt, a community just outside the city of Tuscaloosa, one thing has remained the same for a century — the faithful presence of Holt Baptist Church.

To celebrate the church’s historic 100th anniversary, members have enjoyed numerous special guests, events and activities over the past year. They will wrap up the year’s festivities with a celebration Sunday, Dec. 5.

According to Pastor Phil Boyles, Holt Baptist Church was founded in 1904 with Mack Stamps as its original pastor. The church’s longest-serving pastor was Leon Elmore, who served from 1957 to 1990. Boyles has been at the church since 1999.

Today, the church is a thriving congregation with more than 500 members and an average weekly attendance in Sunday School of 170.

“Our Sunday School enrollment has grown in the past five years from 120 to 170,” Boyles said. The church also has active missions organizations, youth, children’s, adult and senior adult activities. Current full-time staff members include Boyles and church secretary Tina Candee; part-time staff include a youth minister and a minister to children.

Boyles said the year’s celebratory events began in January, when the church held an old-fashioned Sunday and members dressed in 1900s-era clothing. Jerry Wilkins, director of missions for Tuscaloosa Baptist Assocation, delivered a special message that morning. “He brought a message that helped us look to the past,” Boyles said.

Past learning

Each month throughout the past year, the church’s 100-Year Anniversary Committee has printed a special bulletin that included informative and entertaining information about a certain decade.

“Former pastors were recognized and special events were memorialized as well,” Boyles said. “These bulletins have become keepsakes to many of our members as the story of what their friends and loved ones accomplished in building Holt Baptist Church.”

Another momentous day during the year-long celebrations was Family Day on April 24 when the church welcomed a capacity crowd of members, former members, former staff members and friends.

Ken Fuller, pastor of Centreville Baptist Church and pastor of Holt Baptist Church from 1991 to 1998, preached the morning’s message. “After the service, we opened the cornerstone time capsule that was placed there when the sanctuary was built in 1957,” Boyles said.

As part of Family Day, all current and former members were photographed and a memorial directory is being compiled.

On Nov. 23, Holt Baptist Church will host the community Thanksgiving service, an annual holiday event for surrounding churches in the area. Holt will welcome members from churches of different denominations, and Bill Holley of Holten Heights Nazarene Church will preach.

Community ministries

Holt Church’s involvement in the Thanksgiving service is just one example of its influence and activity within the local community. Since its inception, the church has worked to provide ministry opportunities for members of all ages — and to be a witnessing tool in its community and around the world.

One such example of this is the church’s emphasis on missions. “Holt Baptist has had a very strong heritage in missions over the years,” Boyles said. “Each year there is some type of missions trip planned. Our men have traveled to Wyoming, Georgia, Tennessee and Louisiana in helping build churches. Our youth have been involved in missions projects at Gulf Shores, Charleston, S.C., and St. Louis, Mo. And in the 1970s, the youth choir toured in Texas and Florida on weeklong choir tours.”

The church’s children’s, youth, college and senior adult ministries have grown in size and function during recent years. Boyles pointed to the NGO (“Never Grow Old”) group as a thriving one at the church. “This is our senior adult group, which meets each month and takes several trips a year,” he said.

Also popular and meaningful is the church’s “Thursday Morning Live,” a Bible study group founded because of the need among women in the congregation for a deeper study experience. “It has now grown and we have both men and women who attend each week,” Boyles said. 

As Boyles and church members celebrate such current ministries and activities, they continue to look to the past for inspiration. They will conclude their yearlong anniversary celebration on Dec. 5 with a day of reflection on the past and plans for the future.

Dan Anderson, former minister of youth and children at Holt and currently pastor of a church in Athens, will be the church’s special guest for the day. “He will bring our message with a special look to the future,” Boyles said.

The church will put another time capsule in place for future generations, and will dedicate the church bell (which has rung for the community for years) in its new location on top of the church sign. “That bell will once again ring in the new year on Dec. 31, as part of our watch night service,” Boyles said.

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