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Jackson Way Church celebrates 100 years, anticipates futurecomment (0)

January 1, 2009


The Nov. 9 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Jackson Way Baptist Church, Huntsville, in Madison Baptist Association focused on remembering the past and meeting the challenge for ministry in the future.

Paul Hunter, who has served as Jackson Way’s pastor since August and was student pastor prior to that, said the theme of the anniversary was “Celebrating the Past … Anticipating the Future.”

His sermon stressed that looking back is important, but focusing on the future is equally as important.

“Jackson Way was founded with the intent, vision and mind to always look forward.

“Our challenge is that we’re still to be sharing our faith and living lives of obedience to God to recapture what the church was originally founded on,” Hunter said.

He estimated that 650 people attended the celebratory service, an increase from the weekly average of approximately 450 in Sunday worship services.

The service included an array of old hymns, one of which was “Standing on the Promises,” the same song that was sung when the church was organized in 1908.

Jim Dorriety, pastor of Jackson Way from 1962 to 1973, offered a prayer at the service and spoke during a catered lunch held afterwards in the church’s recreation center. Ralph Langley, interim pastor from 1998 to 1999, was recognized during the luncheon. Music for the luncheon was provided by the church choir and the Nashville group Evidence.

Church member John Mendes said he was inspired by the sermon’s emphasis on both the past and challenges for the future.

“I think the thing that impressed me most was the second half of the message, anticipating the next hundred years and to see how God has had His hands on the church for the past hundred years,” Mendes said.

“It was an uplifting experience to see where the church has been and where it’s going,” he added.

A history of the church indicates that what would eventually become Jackson Way Baptist was organized Nov. 1, 1908, as Baptist Church at Dallas. It was formed to provide a place of worship for families in the area of Dallas Manufacturing Co.

The company gave financial assistance that allowed the church to construct a building at the corner of Fifth Street and Rison Avenue. The church’s name became Fifth Street Baptist.

Records indicate that, after the original church was deemed unsafe and was torn down in 1921, members met in the Dallas YMCA building.

A new church was finished in 1922. Classrooms and office space were added to it around 1925.

The church completed a new sanctuary in 1954. Four years later, the congregation voted to rename the church Second Baptist.

In 1963, the 1920s building was torn down to make room for a three-story education building with a nursery, preschool area, classrooms, library, an office suite and storage space.

A decision by the church in 1957 to purchase the Dallas YMCA as a multipurpose building proved to be a blessing in 1965 when members were forced to meet there after a fire destroyed the sanctuary. The present sanctuary was finished in 1966. At that time, the church’s name was changed to Jackson Way to correspond with the adjacent thoroughfare Andrew Jackson Way.

A recreational facility completed in 2007 was named the Center of Recreational Evangelism (C.O.R.E.) to reflect future outreach efforts in the community.

The Warehouse, a student ministry facility, features a gym, weight room, indoor play area and aerobic space, as well as a student center that boasts a 300-seat worship area, a café, game room and arcade.

“It is a massive structure. It is a big leap for our church,” Hunter said. He said he believes the expansion of Interstate 565 in Huntsville now offers new opportunities for the church by making it more visible to motorists.

“We are growing on our side of town with the extension of Interstate 565. It’s in our backyard — literally because they built that on the back of our property.”

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