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Airport Boulevard celebrates 50 years as a church, gears up for next 50comment (0)

May 6, 2005

By Alicia Morris

A lot can happen in 50 years. And a lot has happened in the 50 years since Airport Boulevard Baptist Church was founded with 30 members in a small home in Mobile. Today the church has 307 members and four buildings on its campus, located on Airport Boulevard in Mobile.
During the weekend of April 15–17, the church commemorated 50 years of service in the Kingdom with a homecoming celebration seven months in the making.
“We prayerfully decided to celebrate over three days. Frequently with homecoming celebrations, people who have moved on to other churches can’t always come back on Sunday. So we made it a three-day event, and all three days were very successful,” said Donna Gibbs, one of eight homecoming committee members.
That Friday afternoon, Maxine Scruggs, 83, and her son, Wayne, who joined Airport Boulevard Baptist five months after the church was founded, assisted the pastor and staff in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to symbolize the beginning of another 50 years. 
“When I arrived at the church on Friday night, they pinned a corsage on me. Then they told me they wanted me to cut the ribbon since I was the oldest remaining original member,” said Maxine Scruggs, who has served as a training union and Sunday School teacher at the church for 40 years. Myrt Hess, the oldest-living charter member of the church, recently moved to an assisted-living facility in Vicksburg, Miss., and was unable to attend.
The evening’s festivities continued with a time of praise and worship and prayer followed by a “big fellowship,” according to Pastor Charles Wesley Powell. 
Powell encouraged the congregation “to stay the course for another 50 years of extraordinary service to the King.” He noted that though the way they do ministry will change, the message of Christ will not.
On Saturday, the celebrating continued as the church grounds were covered with tents, inflatables, games and classic cars from the 1920s to the late 1960s. The “Blast from the Past” car show was one of the highlights of the day, and prizes were awarded to the three most popular cars. And during “Family ’50s Fun,” participants were encouraged to dress in ’50s regalia, played games and gathered around televisions to watch episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
“We wanted a family-centered celebration that would take us back to the era when the church was started,” said Gibbs. “We also wanted everyone to just sit around and relax and catch up and look through pictures.”
The committee designed a wall of pictures in the sanctuary and placed photo albums in the fellowship hall. In addition, they designed a video presentation of pictures highlighting the past 50 years, from a white block building to their 600-seat sanctuary.
Many former members and pastors returned for the celebration. The church’s first pianist, Mrs. Dean Todd, who had moved away 40 years earlier, returned with her daughter. When the church was founded, the youngest member was Cindy Jo Cram. She and her mother, Betty, also attended. Former pastor Fred Wilson and his wife, Evelyn, sang Saturday evening. 
On Sunday, former pastor Doug White, who served during the 1980s, delivered the morning message to the more than 200 in attendance. 
Powell said the church’s vision is strong for the future. “Two months ago, we had a five-year planning meeting. This church is committed to nurturing the believers and reaching out to the lost. Our goal is the heart of Mobile. We want to build up this congregation and disciple new believers,” he said.
Powell noted that the church offers strong ministries for every age group and is experiencing growth, spiritually and numerically. He said the church is “a place to call home.” And that Sunday, one more decided to make it home and joined the church at the close of the service.

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