Vinesville disbands but leaves legacy behindcomment (0)
February 3, 2005
By Sondra Washington
Eighty years ago, founders of Vinesville Baptist Church, Birmingham, met in a drugstore to organize a church that would meet the needs of their community. Over the years, church attendance grew tremendously and then dwindled away.
Last year Vinesville members voted to disband, feeling that they could no longer carry out the church’s mission and meet the needs of the transitional community surrounding them.
On Dec. 26, the church held its last service after selling its facility to New Rising Star Primitive Baptist Church formerly located in Fairfield.
Earl Norris, interim pastor of Vinesville since 2003, stated that church members began considering this option after membership severely declined and New Rising Star approached them about purchasing the facility.
“By last summer, we had gotten down to about 25 attendees,” said Norris, who was also minister of music at Vinesville since 1993.
“We felt a black congregation would be able to reach the community far better than us. We’ve had a lot of good work in the community for a long time but our time had just come.”
Vinesville’s aging congregation also played a big part in the decision to close the church, according to Jo Hosmer, church secretary for nearly 20 years.
“Most of our members were senior adults and the building was in need of quite a bit of repair work,” she said. “The members were not physically able to help with any work around the building and the cost of hiring workers would have been very expensive.”
As a result, Vinesville sold the facility for $100,000, less than Vinesville members say the property is worth.
“We just felt that they needed the money to fix the church up and to get started,” said Hosmer, explaining why the property was sold at a low price. “All we were going to do is give the money away to various churches, organizations and missions groups and why not leave it there? We felt they could use the money to witness to the neighborhood.”
As a Vinesville member for 50 years, Hosmer has seen many accomplishments of the church over the years.
“Green Acres Baptist Church in Green Acres was a mission of Vinesville,” she said. “There were missionaries sent out from our church. We ordained several young men to be ministers including Frank Lewis, pastor of First Baptist Church, Nashville.”
She added that New Rising Star is planning to have a special worship service in February honoring Vinesville members and former members with Lewis as the guest speaker.
Both Norris and Hosmer will miss the church and the congregation, but both are excited about what the future holds for the community.
“Vinesville stands out to me as a great fellowship church,” Norris said. “They loved each other and supported each other.
“No matter who you were, they took you in and really encouraged you. It was a real blessing to me,” he said.
He hopes that New Rising Star will be able to go out into the community and bring in as many people as they possibly can.
“The building will hold about 500 to 600 comfortably and it is in a very good location,” Norris said. “If they are faithful in preaching the gospel and honoring the Word of God, I know the Lord will bless them.”
Hosmer added, “New Rising Star is excited about reaching this community for our Lord. We are excited for them and that the purpose of this church will live on and on.”