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Jackson’s Gap celebrates 150 yearscomment (0)

December 23, 2004

By Kathleen Penton

It is unlikely that anyone will live to celebrate his or her 150th birthday, but churches can, and often do, reach that milestone through the faithfulness of the members. Jackson’s Gap Baptist Church, Tallapoosa Association, recently celebrated its sesquicentennial with fond memories and new growth.

According to Pastor Mark Seals, the anniversary is an opportunity to look back at their heritage as a church and recognize that God has been working in their community through the church.

Ten charter members of Jackson’s Gap Baptist recognized a need in their community for a place to worship, and on Dec. 17, 1854, that place was established.

The old church building — which was erected in the early 1880s  about 3.5 miles from the current site on Main Street — was torn down and replaced with a brick structure in 1959. A growing church body led to expansions in 1982, and in 1997, the sanctuary was renovated.

Colleen Davis has been an active member since 1949. In her opinion, one of the highlights in the life of the church occurred during her first year there. That year marked the largest period of growth for the church, allowing it to transition from quarter-time preaching with services held about once a month to a full-time schedule with worship services every Sunday.

In the years since then, the church continued to grow but plateaued as many faithful members grew older and moved to nursing homes, died or simply moved away from Jackson’s Gap. The roll currently stands at about 230 members, and a recent growth spurt has brought new families with children, inspiring the latest addition to the building.

The 5,600-square-foot, two-story multipurpose building includes a new fellowship hall, Sunday School classrooms and a choir rehearsal room. The fellowship hall, located on the first floor, is named in honor of a former member, Helen Keel Barron Alison, who made this portion of the project possible. Upstairs, a new nursery, four new classrooms and the choir rehearsal room provide needed space.

On Oct. 17, the church observed its anniversary and dedicated the new building. Attendance was more than 200 with two former pastors returning for homecoming.

Teman Knight, an associate in the office of evangelism at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, delivered the morning message and a recognition certificate from the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission. Dinner in the new building and special music rounded out the day’s activities.

Seals, the pastor of Jackson’s Gap Church for 16 months, said it is the attitude of the people, the atmosphere they have created and God drawing in the lost that has allowed the church to flourish.

Davis said, “We struggle along trying to do things on our own. But we find in the long run that only God can make all this possible through His people.”

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