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Buhl members excited about new lookcomment (0)

May 16, 2002

From brush arbor meetings in 1908 to a new contemporary sanctuary, Buhl Baptist (Tuscaloosa Association) has kept up with the needs of the community for nearly a century. The traditional rural farming community of Buhl is situated 12 miles west of Tuscaloosa, and has recently experienced a 30 percent growth in population.

During the period from 1925 till 1932, Buhl Baptist reached the height of its growth when the Sipsey Valley Lumber Company was in full production. After the powerhouse lumber company closed, the church experienced some lean years but remained open and has been a continuous presence in the community. The 350-seat worship center was completed in 1999 and adjoins the previous sanctuary that is now utilized by the youth and children’s programs.

Alfred Banks is the first full-time pastor of the church. “The decision to build was made when some visitors came to a Sunday morning worship service and they had to go to the front of the church to be seated. They never came back. Since we have been in the new building, our size has nearly doubled to more than 200 for worship service. The building pledges came in as expected and we have exceeded our debt payment,” said Banks. The church also has a basement that will be finished at a later date with additional Sunday School rooms.

The modern facility has attracted other church leaders who want to study the style of the sanctuary.

“The style is a novice for a rural church, but urban churches have found the circular fan-shaped seating popular among their congregations,” Banks said.

The sanctuary features a large open stage area, a balcony and sophisticated audiovisual equipment. On the stage area is a black baby grand piano and organ. Both instruments feature digitally enhanced keyboards that imitate an orchestra.

Polly Mills, who has been a member since 1931, said, “Our congregation has always realized a need for modern facilities. In 1991, a new addition that included a gymnasium and a weight room was built.”

The church and community are so intertwined that the church shares the gymnasium with Buhl Elementary across the street.

Harold Rice is stepping down as an active deacon after serving the church for 30 years, and the congregation honored Rice April 7 for his dedication to the church.

“Since we have moved into the new sanctuary, the youth program has been the fastest growing group in the church. We now have a youth director and a staff nursery worker. I can remember when ... church attendance had dwindled to 15 people,” Rice said. “Another time, the deacons gathered under the shade tree in front of the church to pass the hat again to pay the evangelist after a revival. We have come a long way from those days and God has really blessed us.”

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