Church makes changes but keeps its focuscomment (0)
September 19, 2002
By Johnie Sentell
Brother Jon Reaves has seen quite a few changes in the 14 and one-half years since he was called to his first pastorate — and his only church staff position to this date.
Now pastor of Tannehill Valley Baptist Church in Bessemer Association, he was called as pastor of First Baptist Church of Bucksville, about half a mile down the road. However, it’s the same congregation, the name having been changed 10 years ago.
Brother Reaves grew up nearby, graduated at McAdory High School and received a degree from Samford University. He came straight to the church from New Orleans Seminary.
Although he and his wife, Jennifer, came to the church with no children, now they are the proud parents of three daughters.
In the congregation’s most recent change, Tannehill Valley moved into a beautiful new facility on Feb. 2 of this year.
Attendance at Tannehill Valley is a big contrast to Bro. Reaves’ first Sunday at the church, when only 45 people were present. On a recent Sunday just one of its Sunday School classes, a couples class, had 44 attending.
Tannehill Valley’s new facility contains 46,000 square feet. The main floor of the sanctuary has space for 600 worshipers, and the choir loft holds another 100. There is space in the balcony for 300.
Their former facility has been on the market for three years, but it has not sold yet.
“We are still using it too,” Bro. Reaves noted: men’s basketball on Monday nights, ladies’ aerobics on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 70 students using it on Wednesday nights.
Brother Reaves said church members have been very supportive of changes through the years.
“I am thankful for the commitment of our members. We have had steady growth, adding 10, 20 or 30 members per year. It has been a good, good experience. I thank the Lord for it.
“It hasn’t skyrocketed, but people have been good at accepting change. We have used two services and a blended worship style,” he said.
“We try to do new, creative things. We’ve made a lot of changes, but our focus is still Sunday School. And we emphasize the need of families to get into a small group.
“Not only does it build your members, but it also gives you spiritual growth among those you’re adding to the church,” he noted.
Brother Reaves said, “Our people caught a vision of what God can do through our church. We should expect great things of God to use us in this community.”
The church celebrated its 175th anniversary this past May, and Bro. Reaves discovered that for at least a part of the year 1906 his great grandfather T.S.L. Carroll served as pastor of the church!
It is also quite interesting to know that in 1827 a slave named Job was the first preacher at the church, then called Roupe’s Valley Church.
Job had been brought from Africa to Charleston, S.C., and sold to Edward Davis, who brought him to Jonesboro in Jefferson County.
In his 1840 History of Baptists in Alabama, Hosea Holcombe noted that Job and 20 other members of Bethel Baptist Church (Rock Creek) began the new church in 1827. Job died in Pickens County in 1835.
Holcombe said, “Few better preachers were to be found in Alabama in those days than Job. He lived the Christian, and he died the saint. He was generally loved and respected by all who knew him.”