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Siluria Baptist celebrates 100 yearscomment (0)

December 13, 2007

By Greg Heyman

A century ago, a certain corner of Alabaster looked very different.

In fact, Alabaster wasn’t there at all. But Siluria Baptist Church was.

“Siluria was the town and not Alabaster at the time,” said Gale Durrett, who has attended services at the Shelby Baptist Association church since 1964. “And now our church is the only thing that bears the name of Siluria. The little town of Siluria has just been sort of swallowed up in Alabaster.”

The 100th anniversary celebration of Siluria Baptist Nov. 11 evoked memories of the church’s unique history in the community for which it was named.

“This church has been an ongoing thing in the community, I guess as long as the community has been there,” Durrett said.

The community grew up around the Siluria Cotton Mill, and six charter members started Siluria Baptist for the people who worked at the cotton mill. It’s grown to an average Sunday morning attendance of 80–100. And even that grew to about 150 the day of the anniversary as former members returned to celebrate and visit with old friends, among them Don Palmer, the church’s former music minister, who led the choir for the anniversary.

The celebration also offered a chance for current members and those returning to hear former pastor Bill Harper again, as well as enjoy a covered-dish luncheon in the fellowship hall. They also heard a performance by the Southern Image Quartet later in the day.

Harper, who served as pastor of Siluria Baptist from 1989 until 2000, preached on the influence of Christians as emphasized in Matthew 5:13–16. He said that has been the church’s mission for 100 years and encouraged the congregation to continue with that goal. “As long as the church is there, the assignment is to be the ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world,’” Harper said.

All churches experience trials but he said the perseverance of Siluria Baptist’s congregation has helped it endure. “They’ve had some really dedicated folks that have been able to stick through those kinds of things,” Harper said.

Current pastor Gary Jones described Siluria Baptist as “a loving church.” Jones, who has been at the church for almost a year and a half, said the return of former members, many of whom he had never met, made the day special. “There was a real spirit of unity,” Jones said.

And his observations are born out in the life of Durrett, who said she has been at Siluria Baptist so long that she feels as if she is part of the building. “I get a lot of strength from that church,” Durrett said.

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