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Centreville’s Antioch marks 175 yearscomment (0)

October 16, 2008

Without even a building in which to meet, the members of what is now Antioch Baptist Church, Centreville, gathered 175 years ago under trees to conduct the church’s first service.

Only two years ago, the congregation of the 100-member church again was meeting under extraordinary circumstances after the church fell victim to arsonists.

But July 27, in a reconstructed church building on beautified grounds, Antioch members celebrated the church’s 175th anniversary. During the service, Alabama Baptist Historical Commission Executive Director Lonette Berg presented the church with a plaque recognizing Antioch’s years of service.

“It was a successful day after all the work put into trying to beautify the church.  Everyone bragged about how good our church looked,” Antioch Pastor Jack Allen said.

On March 16, 1833, 12 men and 11 women founded Baptist Church of Jesus Christ in the small town of Antioch.

The church was a member of what was then Mulberry Baptist Association. Later, the church became known as Antioch Baptist and, in 1902, was a charter member of Bibb Baptist Association.

Although located in a small town, Antioch proved itself a forerunner in advocating church involvement through Sunday School and Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU). In fact, the church had one of the first Sunday School programs in the county and, by 1924, had an active WMU, according to Edwina Greathouse, Antioch member and anniversary coordinator.

In 1909, Antioch even held the record for largest membership in Bibb County, with a total of 245 members.

“The church (campus) has grown tremendously,” Sarah Morrison, a member for 75 years, said. “We used to have to eat under the trees, but now we have a fellowship hall. It has come a long way since I can remember.”

On Feb. 3, 2006, Antioch fell prey to arson attacks on various churches in the area. The building of neighboring Pleasant Sabine Baptist Church was destroyed. The two churches joined together in their efforts to recover from the church burnings. Carpenters for Christ stayed at Antioch for two weeks as they worked to rebuild Pleasant Sabine’s building. In addition, Antioch hosted a benefit singing to raise money for Pleasant Sabine.

“We have come through a difficult time with the church being burned,” Allen said. “We have tried to build up the youth ministry, build numerically and enlarge the God’s Grace Ministry.”

Directed by Mike and Betty Beam, God’s Grace Ministry is an outreach through which members of the church collect household items that are subsequently given to members of the community who need them.    

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