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Buhl Church celebrates centennialcomment (0)

December 11, 2008

By Sondra Washington

Myrtle Rice remembers when members of Buhl Baptist Church used round-belly heaters for warmth during cold winter months. She remembers walking down the aisle to accept Christ at age 15. And she remembers being baptized in a nearby lake since the church had no baptistry for many years.

For as long as Rice can remember, the Tuscaloosa Baptist Association church has been a fixture in her life. “It’s just home,” she said, envisioning several generations of her family sitting in pews and coming to know Christ through the church. “I grew up there.”

But the life of Buhl Baptist spans more than just Rice’s 65 years as a member. Recently the church celebrated its 100th anniversary with a special program and luncheon.

“It was just a special day,” said Pastor Alfred Banks, noting acknowledgments from the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and Tuscaloosa Association.

During the program, members also presented the church history and told how Buhl Baptist started under a “brush arbor” (shade tree/group of trees) with logs for seats.

Twenty-four years after the first church building was constructed in 1910, it was torn down and replaced by a smaller facility. By 1953, another building had replaced the smaller church and Sunday School rooms had been added. According to the church history, families in the congregation attempted various fund-raising efforts to pay the $12,000 debt. At one point, 10 families followed the model of the parable of the talents, investing $10 each to raise money, and had much success.

Over the years, there were various additions and renovations to the church building, but church growth necessitated a new sanctuary be built in the late 1990s.

Rice attributes the growth to God’s presence in the people’s hearts.

“[Buhl Baptist] started out a small church, and it has grown and grown … because the Lord is in there and He is leading us,” she said.

From 12 founding members, the church now averages about 200 on Sundays and was able to call Banks as its first full-time pastor in 1997 as well as ministers of music and youth. And church members look forward to adding more new faces to the congregation as they show God’s love to their community through missions projects.

To celebrate Thanksgiving this year, Buhl Baptist joined another area church in preparing and delivering 300 plates of food to the community. And Dec. 13, the congregation will host a Christmas musical for the community, hoping to reach people who wouldn’t normally come to church.

“We are doing some things we have never done before to reach them because they are certainly not going to come to us,” Banks said.

He has high expectations for his flock in the future. “I hope we are going to continue to reach out even more so and get [nonbelievers] into church and hopefully get them in a right relationship with the Lord. I just thank the folks for allowing me to be pastor. We’ve had our ups and downs. Right now, we are on an up and it’s just wonderful.”

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