Bethabara membership finds new life, growingcomment (0)
August 24, 2000
By Sue Ann Miller
Members of Sipsey Association’s Bethabara Baptist Church, Northport, have gone from dusting their empty sanctuary pews to ordering more.
It wasn’t that long ago that the 157-year-old church was barely surviving in its rural location in Tuscaloosa County. At one point the church membership had dropped to 13 active members.
Today the church is overflowing — many attendees are young couples with children — and the growth spurt has created the need for a new sanctuary to accommodate the steady rise in membership. Plans are under way for the building of a 400-capacity sanctuary.
Church members credit this phenomenal growth to the leadership of their minister of eight years, Ted Sessoms. According to longtime member and church pianist, Gloyce Skelton, “Our pastor preaches God’s Word uncompromisingly, challenging us to continually study His Word and live closer to Him.”
“Brother Ted brings such conviction through the power of the Holy Spirit that souls are being saved as a result,” said member Sherrye Pruitt. “The news of our growth, the outpouring of God’s spirit and the love we have for one another is spreading through our community and the surrounding counties,” Pruitt added.
Eight years ago Sessoms entered the doors of the small church with 18 members present. “It was my first church and all I knew was to love them and preach God’s Word with power and authority,” the bivocational pastor said of his first year. “At the beginning of this year we asked God to send us 50 souls that we might minister to and love,” Sessoms said. “We have had 38 souls saved and 13 others have moved their letters here. We now set up chairs for the crowd overflow,” he said of his church’s revival.
Bethabara’s oldest member, 88-year-old Thelma Crossland recalls times throughout the last half century when she and her husband and two children would walk five miles one way to attend church and find only one or two members and the preacher in attendance.
“There was a time I was afraid our church wouldn’t survive,” Crossland said. “My husband told me not to worry, that God wasn’t aiming to close these doors,” she noted. “I just wished he could have lived long enough to see the miracles the Lord has done here.”