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Forest Home Baptist marks 150 yearscomment (0)

September 18, 2008

By Greg Heyman

Though Forest Home Baptist Church in Butler Baptist Association celebrated its 150th anniversary Aug. 10, many church members used the 150 days beforehand to pray fervently for its future.

Among the specifics for which people began to pray March 13 were the church and its ministry, its witness in the community, personal growth for church members and wisdom for state and national elected leaders. Each family was asked to commit to pray 25 minutes daily for six days. That commitment equaled 150 minutes.

“It was a way of creating enthusiasm among our people about the anniversary,” said Fred Thompson, who serves as Forest Home Baptist’s treasurer and a deacon.

And it seems to have worked. While Thompson said, “on a good day, we’ll have 25 in Sunday School and 40 in worship service,” more than 150 attended the anniversary service, which featured a sermon by Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. Relating his comments to the Olympics, which had begun two days earlier, Lance challenged the church to do its utmost to excel.

The service, which was followed by a covered-dish luncheon, also included greetings by Jim Griffin, Butler Association director of missions (DOM), and the presentation of a plaque by Don Donald, a commissioner with the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission.

Forest Home Baptist’s six living former pastors were recognized: Dewey Mayfield (1957–1959), Warner Floyd (1960–1962), Randall Herring (1967–1968), Gene Aldridge (1968–1972), John Long (1972–1973) and Jim Oliver (2003–2007). Only Oliver and Mayfield were able to attend.

The church was founded in 1858 as Ebenezer Baptist Church and was part of Pine Barren Baptist Association. When Butler Association formed in 1903, the church joined it.

Magnolia Edwards, secretary with Butler Association, said she is unsure of why the church’s name was changed to Forest Home Baptist but indicated there was already an Ebenezer Baptist in the association.

In 1999, there was talk of disbanding Forest Home Baptist, but the commitment of its members has kept the church alive, according to Griffin. For instance, Forest Home Baptist has been without a pastor since Oliver retired, so Tim Skipper, a member of First Baptist Church, Greenville, preaches on Sunday mornings and different church members lead Bible studies on Sunday and Wednesday nights.

“The community has been through something of a decline in the sense of losing population,” said Griffin, who stepped down as DOM at the end of August to accept the pastorate of Bower Memorial Baptist Church, Evergreen.
“But the folks who are living in the community have worked to keep the church going, and they’ve had some very committed lay people in the church, and they’ve maintained their commitment to associational missions.

“I think that’s a big part of why they’re still there, still serving and still effective,” he added.

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