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Montevallo church dedicates building, honors history comment (0)

September 4, 2008

By Erin W. Tunnell

We’ve been blessed. We have ordinary, average people with average incomes committed to doing what God asked them to do,” said Todd Burr, pastor of Dogwood Grove Baptist Church, Montevallo, in Shelby Baptist Association.

Because of their commitment, those ordinary, average people saw God do something extraordinary, Burr said.

Church members’ commitment led them to break ground in 2006, creating a sanctuary with their own hands that could have cost close to $1 million but instead cost $200,000, according to Burr. And the church is debt-free.

Dogwood Grove Baptist’s Aug. 10 building dedication was more than a capstone to two years of hard work, Burr said — it was one more milestone in an ongoing journey to be the church God wants it to be.

During the building process, church members discovered the existing sanctuary had been built on the church’s past literally.

They uncovered the original walls, floors, windows, roof and front stairs of the church building erected in 1856, which had been bricked up during a previous renovation.

Because of that, the church opted not to move to a new site or tear the sanctuary down but to build wings on either side to widen it and build over it.

“Anybody can tear down and build a new building,” Burr said. “I want our people to have a vision of the church we came from.”

And with the addition of a walkway between the two wings, members can see where their church started, as the rafters from the original building and the shingled roof from a past renovation are visible.

In her nearly 93 years, Evelyn Hicks has seen the church she has attended since childhood change physically.

She recalls the days of sitting on wooden benches with slats and huddling around the wood-burning potbellied stove in the middle of the whitewashed wooden sanctuary.

“We have come a long way,” Hicks said. “It’s the Lord that’s done it, not the people. We have to give Him the praise for it.”

During Burr’s 10 years as pastor, Dogwood Grove has seen constant growth.

The more than 75 resident members present when he came in 1998 tripled over the next three years. The church’s first building program in 1999 to expand its educational space was soon followed by the addition of a balcony in the sanctuary to accommodate the increase in worship attendance.

That led to a need for more educational space and the recent expansion of the sanctuary, which now will hold more than 300.

Dogwood Grove’s membership is currently a little more than 200.

And still growing. Burr has baptized new members into the church every Sunday since the baptistry was installed June 22, adding almost 20 people in seven weeks.

There is at least one aspect of the expansion project yet to be completed though — the placement of a safe under the floor beneath the pulpit.

The water- and fireproof safe will contain a Bible found when the balcony was added and papers with church members’ signatures, signifying their commitment to God’s Word and vision for the future.

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