First Baptist to mark bicentennial June 4

Published 1:23 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

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First Baptist Church will celebrate its 200th anniversary Sunday. To mark the occasion, a special meet and greet will be held at 9:30 a.m. with coffee and donuts provided.

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“It is a time for people to come in, meet and fellowship,” said Pastor Tim Mathis. “We are expecting people to come who have not been able to be here for many years, they live out of town, we hope they will be able to be here for that. We have contacted at least 150 different family units.”

Regular service will be held at 10:45 a.m. with Daniel Wilson of the Alabama Baptist Convention and a surprise guest. After the service homecoming, lunch will be provided and there will be inflatables and other activities for children. There will be a mortgage note burning to celebrate the church’s mortgage being paid off.

“A great day is planned for everyone and we invite you to be part of it,” Mathis said. “Come be with us. You don’t have bring anything besides yourself and we would love you to be a part of this special day.”

First Baptist Church was first founded June 7, 1823 with a congregation of eight people and Pastor Thomas Hand. The first brick building was built in the late 1840s where the library current is located. That building burned down and was rebuilt in just a year.

“We have been through a lot of things like most older churches have,” Mathis said. “We have been through plagues, cholera epidemics, Spanish flu. We were closed during the civil war and served as a hospital to both confederate and union troops. The church was open and left unlocked during the great depression so people could come and stay.”

One of the many members the church has over the years is the well known missionary Lottie Moon.

“Sometime around 1861, First Baptist Church started a college for woman,” said Mathis. “Lottie Moon was instructor who taught many different subjects. She was here for three years or so when she started to get her calling to foreign missions.”

Even though the church’s current building was built in 2007, many artifacts and pieces were kept from past buildings.

“The lights came out of the sanctuary that was dedicated in 1902,” Mathis said. “The stained glass windows were part of it too. In the main hallway we have the Signs of the Apostles from the old building. The cross that hangs over the entry to the sanctuary was from the old building”

Mathis hopes that church can continue its mission for the next 200 years.

“The reason we are here today is by two forces,” Mathis said. “Number 1 is God, the Holy Spirit and, of course Jesus who is our savior. The other is God using his people over the last 200 years starting with those who had a vision to start this church. We have it in our heart that as long as we able proclaim the message and love of Jesus. That is why we are here.”