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Calera church experiences revival in midst of 100th anniversary festivitiescomment (0)

September 13, 2007

By Greg Heyman

Pastor Daryle Nichols struggled to find just the right sermon for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Concord Baptist Church, Calera, Aug. 19.

Nichols wanted to share a sermon that celebrated the history of the Shelby Baptist Association church. At the same time, he was in the middle of a series on how the gospel was taught by Jesus. The result was a sermon that Nichols and his congregation believe was just right for the church as it celebrated its centennial while also acknowledging the work ahead.

“It was more like, ‘This is the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future,’” Concord Baptist member Nelda Lowery said of the sermon.

The invitation following the sermon a week before the anniversary lasted an hour and resulted in four professions of faith — including a deacon’s wife — and saw many families coming forward to ask for prayer.

“In that service, there was a lot of brokenness; there were tears,” Nichols said. “I felt like the Lord convicted me that we needed to stay on the theme we were on.”

For the anniversary, he preached from Matthew 9:13, in which Jesus called sinners to repentance. “I related it to our 100-year anniversary, that God had called us to follow Him and part of following Him is that we’re also to call to sinners to repent in the community where God has put us,” Nichols said.

Along with looking toward their mission for the future, church members also enjoyed looking back at the past and reuniting with former church members.

“Seeing everybody and enjoying the fellowship brought back a lot of memories,” said Margie Posey, a member of Concord for 37 years.

In addition to members who had moved away, a couple of former pastors returned for the anniversary: Robert McElwain, who served from 1966–1970, and David Carpenter, who led the church from 1974–1980.

Average attendance for worship on Sunday is 350, but there was a full house for the anniversary. Activities included a meet-and-greet prior to the service that featured a 20-minute video tracing the history of Concord from its beginning to the present day.

Following dinner on the grounds was the opening of a cornerstone of the church’s former sanctuary in which church members had placed items when the sanctuary was built in 1978. It was fun for the young crowd to see the history, Nichols said. “Even though the church is a hundred years old, it’s a very young church. Eighty percent of our people are under the age of 50.”

And the need for reaching the community couldn’t be clearer in his opinion. Nichols said the church is booming as it looks toward the next 100 years, with young families moving into Calera. He said an average of 70 children participate in children’s church each Sunday. At the same time, there is a “vibrant group” of senior church members, with 65 senior adults traveling to Gatlinburg, Tenn., at the end of September.

Nichols said Calera is the fastest-growing city in Alabama — a statistic he thinks makes Concord the right church in ministering to both seniors who have lived there for many years and newer residents.

“The people moving to Calera are young families just getting started, but you’ve also got a group of senior adults that are moving there,” he said. “It’s convenient living for senior adults and young families.”

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