Jones Baptist Church marks 100 years, celebrates in new sanctuarycomment (0)
July 19, 2007
By Anna Swindle
On July 8, close to 100 people came together in the sanctuary of Jones Baptist Church in Autauga Baptist Association to recognize and commemorate the church’s 100th anniversary.
Not only was it a special occasion but the location was also significant.
This past April, Jones Baptist dedicated its new sanctuary, and so the July 8 event was a continuation of that celebration.
“We basically built that sanctuary with our own hands,” said Melba Chandler, a 43-year member of the church.
“It’s an amazing building. You walk in and you can really feel God’s presence.”
Pastor Walter Johnson has been at Jones Baptist for the past nine years, and his congregation has continually impressed him.
“These are dedicated and loving people. Some of them are the hardest workers I’ve ever seen in a church,” he said. “This is certainly not my church — this is our church.”
Many members are especially involved in missions work, Johnson said. Jones Baptist helps to support two missionaries — one in Romania and one in India — and communicates with them often.
In fact, connections seem to be a common trend among church members.
“Here we are one big family,” Chandler said. “We hurt when others hurt, and we rejoice when others rejoice. When we have good news, we can’t wait to get to church to tell everyone.”
Since its founding in November 1906, Jones Baptist has always been a tight-knit community, but according to Chandler, it is not known for being an exclusive group.
Until December 1996, Jones Baptist did not have a full-time pastor.
Instead the church held services every first, second and third Sunday of the month and the local Methodist church had services on the last Sunday of each month.
“We would all go to the Methodist church when there was no service at our church, and members of the Methodist church would come hear sermons at our church when their pastor was gone,” said Mattie Maude King Bice, who has been a member of Jones Baptist for 90 years.
“At our church, we love everybody and are such a good fellowship. You never are a stranger when you come to our church.”
Members of Jones Baptist place an emphasis on helping each other as well as others.
For many years, they have had a program in which one person is designated each month to visit and bring food to people in the congregation who are sick or in need.
Since its start, the response to the program has always been overwhelming, Chandler said.
“Our church is made up of people who step up to the bat and take care of things when they need to be taken care of,” she said.
Due to its strength in the past, Chandler expects good things for Jones Baptist’s future.
“We are committed to keeping the old but also embracing the new,” she said. “People come and people go but the core of our church has always been there and will, I hope, continue to be there in years to come.”