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Fulton Bridge pastor hits 50th ministry year, back in church where he grew upcomment (0)

October 23, 2008

By Megan Norris Jones

When Dan Duncan was growing up in Hamilton at a little rural church known as Fulton Bridge Baptist, he couldn’t have known that one day he would be back in the church as pastor and would celebrate 50 years in the ministry while there.

But Oct. 26, the Marion Baptist Association church will host a reception in honor of Duncan, its pastor of seven years, to celebrate his golden anniversary in the ministry.

“We have deep, deep roots here in Hamilton, so it was interesting to come back here for the conclusion of our career,” said Duncan, who was ordained at Fulton Bridge.

He and his wife were high school sweethearts in Hamilton, and both have long family histories in the area.

Called to ministry at 18, Duncan spent the years between growing up in Hamilton and returning to preach at Fulton Bridge in three states, earning degrees from Samford University in Birmingham and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., serving churches as pastor all the while. 

He has been a school principal and a seminary professor, has served on countless boards for the Alabama Baptist State Convention and has even taken up broadcasting for high school football, but through every step, Duncan was always a preacher.

“I told him about the Lord when he was a kid. Now I’m in my second childhood, and he has returned to tell me about the Lord,” said Lorene Irvin, a longtime member of Fulton Bridge who taught Duncan in Sunday School and Training Union when he was a child.

Duncan never lost touch with the church.

“I lost count of how many revivals I’d come back for,” he said.

His parents and sister continued on as members of Fulton Bridge, and his mother was still living for his first two years as pastor.

His sister and her family are still active members.

“My mama and daddy brought me to church here as soon as Mama could get out of bed,” Duncan said, recalling memories of his childhood.

Both the church and community have grown these past 50 years as the town has expanded to encompass the church, which used to be in the county, and Interstate 22 has been built through town and right next to the church.

The old white wooden church building from Duncan’s childhood was long ago replaced with a more modern one, but he was instrumental in Fulton Bridge’s latest building project, a new educational building.

“He drew up the plans since he had been through building programs before,” said Wayne Hughes, who was on the pastor search committee that called Duncan back to Fulton Bridge.

He grew up in the church with Duncan, though he said few members remain from that time.

As for the future, Duncan is still going strong and looks forward to the years to come.

“I’m past what most folks consider retirement age, but I don’t even think of that,” he said.

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