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Celebrating years of faithful servicecomment (0)

May 20, 2004

By Johnie Sentell

Recently Bro. Mike Shaw, pastor of Pelham First Baptist Church in Shelby Association, observed that he began serving there on Mother’s Day in 1979. When I took my first photograph for The Ala-bama Baptist, he was in the picture, and he had been at the church less than two years. The average church has had several pastors since then, so Bro. Shaw and the church are to be congratulated. Of 3,200 churches in our state convention, there are probably less than 100 whose pastors have been there 25 years.

Churches enjoy celebrating significant anniversaries of their found-ing. Because the state of Ala-bama is less than 200 years old, the 175th anniversary of a church’s founding is noteworthy.

On Sept. 19, members of -Phil-a-delphia Baptist Church in Russell Asso-ciation will mark 175 years as a church. Brother John Rigby has served as their pastor 21 years. I am aware of four other Baptist churches celebrating their 175th anniversaries this year: Bethel Baptist Church (Butler Asso-c.), Black Creek Baptist Church (Choctaw Assoc.), Montgomery First Baptist Church (Mont-gomery Assoc.) and Spring Hill Baptist Church (Fayette Assoc.).

Among some 16 churches celebrating their 150th year, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (Colbert-Lauderdale Assoc.) celebrated last Sunday, and Salem Baptist Church (Cherokee Assoc.) will celebrate next Sunday, May 23. Others celebrating their 150th soon include Union Baptist Church (Randolph Assoc.), June 6; and Peniel Baptist Church (Dale Assoc.), June 13.

Holt Baptist Church in Tusca-loosa Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Church members recently opened a time capsule sealed June 7, 1959, when the sanctuary was being constructed.

Pastor Philip Boyles noted the capsule contained many items including a list of the Sunday School officers and church members, a biographical sketch of Pastor Leon Elmore, minutes of the 126th annual session of the association taken Oct. 14–15, 1958, a copy of the history of Holt Baptist Church, 1904–1959, a copy of the Tuscaloosa News and a copy of The Alabama Baptist dated May 28, 1959.

Brother Boyles noted the church will be celebrating the entire year of 2004 and in December will seal another time capsule. This month Bro. Boyles completed his fifth year at the church. “We’ve had a good five years and are looking forward to many more,” he said.

Shades Crest Baptist Church in Birmingham Asso-ciation celebrated its 50th anniversary last weekend. Pastor Dennis Foust asked church members several good questions: “What will our children and grandchildren read in the pages of our centennial history book? Will they see that a congregation of Christians took their discipleship so seriously that it shaped their lives, individually and congregationally? Will they read about how we loved one another through commitment, sacrifice, forgiveness, encour--agement and burden sharing? Will they find that the vision of God’s mission entrusted to us became a motivational challenge for us to be faithful?” Good questions for all of us to ponder.

Speaking of faithfulness, I was recently reminded of the many years of faithful Christian service given by a great musician.

The new book by George Beverly Shea, “How Sweet the Sound,” is primarily about great gospel songs, but readers can’t fail to sense the faithfulness of the author, who has participated in evangelistic efforts with Billy Graham for more than 50 years.

I was surprised to learn “It Is No Secret” was written at the suggestion of actor John Wayne!

It is no secret that churches are strengthened by providing the state Baptist paper to members. Studies show their members become more supportive of missions work.
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