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South Park continues tradition of racial harmonycomment (0)

September 21, 2000

By Lauren Brooks

The festive air at South Park Baptist Church’s recent pastor installation service resembled a wedding more than a church meeting.


The happy occasion was a celebration of the joining of this Birmingham church and its new pastor, Amos L. Crews Jr.


Crews was formerly an associate pastor at Harmony Street Baptist Church, also in Birmingham, so the sanctuary was mixed with South Park members and many guests from Harmony Street who had come to give their blessing on this union.


Friends, co-workers and partners in ministry spoke words of encouragement to Crews and his family and also challenged him as he begins his new role as head pastor.


The choir from Harmony Baptist Church sang inspirational and uplifting songs and led the congregation in joyful worship. Gary Slaughter, pastor of Harmony Baptist Church, preached the installation message.


Crews became pastor at South Park Aug. 1, but church members wanted to do some cleaning and painting before having the installation service Sept. 10.


For the month that Crews has served at the church, attendance on Sunday and Wednesday has increased and the choir has been reorganized.


About 40 attend the Sunday service and about 25 come for Bible study on Wednesday.


“I believe God made me a builder and South Park needs a builder,” Crews said. “We are dedicated to building a multiracial, multiethnic congregation and it seems to be working well so far.”


South Park Baptist Church is on the corner of Pearson Avenue and South Park Road in Birmingham.


When the church was established in 1940, the area and the congregation were white.


Over the past 60 years, the neighborhood has changed and so has the membership of South Park.


In 1987, Jim Hendrix came to the church as pastor. In 1992, the congregation of South Park decided to reach out to the changing community around the church and brought in some black leadership to serve on staff.


The congregation became racially mixed and has been ever since. In August 1995, the church called Hugh Foster, who is black, to be its pastor and Hendrix stayed as pastor emeritus. Foster resigned in January 2000 and Hendrix was the interim pastor until Crews came in August.

Standing strong


The church has been through many transitions but because of its central location in the community and dedication of members, its doors have remained open despite adverse circumstances.


“These past few years we’ve had a transient group, but the church has touched many lives,” said Polly Hendrix, wife of Jim Hendrix.


“The church decided to stay and not run from its problems but minister to the community it’s in. We’re in a good spot to be a witness,” she said.


Crews agrees that the church can have an impact on the surrounding area and they are already working on efforts toward making this a reality.


“We’ll try reaching them through evangelizing in the neighborhood and figuring out needs in the community and meeting them,” he said.


He specifically mentioned wanting to minister through parenting classes, support for single mothers, after-school tutoring, revivals and open houses.


Crews is currently pursuing a degree in pastoral studies at Easonion Baptist College, Birmingham.


He was licensed and ordained by E.B. Wilson at Harmony Street Baptist Church. He is married to Sharon Crews, and they have four sons.

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