Rewind to 1913
It might be hard for some to believe that Pates Chapel Baptist Church was not always a church.
“Originally it was a schoolhouse built around 1910,” says church member Erman Cleckler, who attended first through fourth grade at the old schoolhouse.
Cleckler, 83, a member of Pates Chapel since 1942, is one of the oldest active members of the church today. He has compiled much of the church’s history and has lived a great deal of it himself.
Cleckler remembers when the original building was removed from its pillars in March 1932 by one of the worst tornadoes in Chilton County history.
“They tore it down again and rebuilt it,” he recalls. “It was probably rebuilt in a matter of weeks. Everybody pitched in. It was the Depression years and nobody had a job.”
The land where the church stands today was donated by Isom Pate, hence the name Pates Chapel. The church was organized on Sept. 18, 1913, and three days later the Rev. H.G. Williams became the first pastor.
The Rev. W.M. Olive moderated the organization meeting in which the church became official. Charter members were J.A. Cleckler, Pearl Cleckler, T.A. Caton, Rebecca Caton, Madison Hubbard, Joycie Hubbard, Lucy Robinson and Maude Robinson.
The first brick building was constructed in 1948 on property acquired from Lewis Pate, the son of Isom Pate, while Rabie Crumpton was pastor. The present sanctuary was built in 1977 while Alvin Porter was pastor and underwent a major renovation in 2003 under Pastor Doug West.
Pates Chapel’s fellowship hall, which plays host to many events year round, was built in 1987 under Pastor Paul Holmes.
“That was pretty visionary because our fellowship hall is one of the biggest in the county,” Cleckler said.
Bro. Clint Harris was called as the current pastor in April of this year.
On Sunday, Sept. 21, exactly 95 years to date after the first pastor was called, the church will observe its 95th anniversary with an “old fashion day” celebration from 10 a.m. until noon. A potluck lunch will follow the service.
Attendees are encouraged to dress up in early 1900s attire for the day.
Special guests will include singers Southern Pride and Sen. Hank Erwin. Erwin is expected to present a resolution to the church commemorating the milestone.
“The door’s open. We welcome everyone,” said church member Bill Zieber.