Gardendale’s Central Church marks 50 years of dedicated ministry to otherscomment (0)
October 23, 2008
By Kimberly Wright
Though the location of Central Baptist Church, Gardendale, has changed several times in its 50-year history, one thing has remained constant — the members’ desire to minister to others.
While celebrating the North Jefferson Baptist Association church’s golden anniversary Sept. 14, the 250 people in attendance reflected on the days of meeting, for example, in a dry cleaners and at a skating rink.
The church was founded as Gardendale Missionary Baptist Church by a group from Gardendale’s First Baptist Church, who met for the first time Jan. 4, 1958, in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Marion Rhodes.
After a few meetings in homes, the Old Dry Cleaners building in Gardendale was rented.
Charter member Billie Kendrick vividly recalled those days.
“We started with random people coming to preach,” Kendrick said, adding the first pastor was Bobby Moore.
While items like literature and an upright piano were donated to the new church, one thing its meeting place lacked was air conditioning. There was just a big fan in the back of the room, Kendrick said.
Two months after renting that space, property was purchased on Bradley Road in Gardendale. The foundation for the first sanctuary and classrooms was poured in June 1958. A second sanctuary was built three years later to accommodate the growing membership.
In 1962, the church’s name was changed to Central Baptist.
As the congregation grew, additional property adjacent to the Bradley Road site was purchased in 1965. A house located on that property was used for Sunday School space.
Six years later, construction on a new sanctuary and education building began and with the help of church volunteers, was finished in 1977. This structure was the primary place of worship for 26 years.
In 2003, the church sold that facility and bought land for its current site on Newfound Road in Gardendale.
Members and many volunteer groups from across the country helped build a new facility there. While it was under construction, the congregation rented its former facility from the new owners and continued to meet there.
Later Sunday morning and Wednesday night services were held at Funtime Skate Center in Fultondale. Because of that, members were affectionately referred to as “holy rollers.”
In March 2005, the church held its first worship service at the Newfound Road site.
While moving themselves literally, Central’s members have sought to move others spiritually, reaching out to them through weekly Sunday morning breakfasts for the homeless and missions trips to places such as Florida, Colorado, Belize and Spain.
During the anniversary celebration, the church’s second pastor, Henry Cox, delivered the sermon. Other former pastors Bobby Hadaway, Frank Sims and Moore all shared humorous stories of their time at the church. An afternoon program featured performances by former ministers of music and choir members.
“It was a great day, seeing former members and celebrating the life and history of the church,” said current pastor Harold McClendon.