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Irondale church celebrates 150th year of servicecomment (0)

June 7, 2007

Imagine a church day filled with good food, a sermon by a beloved former pastor and reunions with old friends.

That’s how members of Grantswood Baptist Church, Irondale, in Birmingham Baptist Association say they will remember its 150th anniversary celebration May 6.

Attendance for the day shot up from the average of 50 to 200. The large turnout for the celebration was especially poignant for Pastor A. Ray Foreman. He has been at Grantswood Baptist six years and "had never seen the church full before."

The church was full to overflowing — chairs had to be put out in the sanctuary, which seats only 150 people.

According to Foreman, church membership has declined over the years as a result of members moving away and dying.

"Grantswood has a history of hanging in there and doing what needs to be done," Foreman added. "We had a great day."

But the anniversary — a commemoration of the church’s continued existence — gave both former and current members the chance to share pictures and tell favorite stories.

Renewing acquaintances with former members was what excited Jimmy and Essie Chandler, members since 1954, most about the day.

"Seeing the old friends that used to be there that have moved on — that was special," Jimmy Chandler said, noting that some came a long distance to attend the service.

The Chandlers were married at Grantswood and raised their two sons there.

Family ties and friendships are what they believe has endeared the church to its members.

"It’s a very supportive church whose members care about each other," Essie Chandler said.

At Foreman’s request, Buddy McGohon, interim pastor of First Baptist Church, Leeds, in Birmingham Baptist Association, preached the morning message.

Former pastor Joel Jackson preached that afternoon following lunch. Jackson was pastor of Grantswood for 14 years.

The celebration also included a time for church members to remember those who have gone before them.

As they do every year during homecoming, members decorated the graves of deceased church members buried in the adjoining cemetery. (TAB)

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