150 years and counting…

Published 10:23 pm Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The earliest historical records of Liberty Hill Baptist Church go back to Aug. 8, 1858, when church members met and drew up the Articles of Constitution.

One would have to go back even further, however, to find the true origins of the church, which predates 1850 according to newspaper articles.

If anyone can tell you about Liberty Hill, it’s Edna Hicks, whose family spans six generations of church membership. As the church’s first full-time secretary, Hicks served alongside 11 pastors over nearly 27 years.

During this time, she witnessed the construction of all the current buildings, which stand off County Road 37 west of Clanton. These represent the latest of several facilities that have housed the church.

“It’s been a miracle of change,” said Hicks, 74. “When I think of the little white church and all the changes that have been made, it’s amazing. The Lord’s really blessed us.”

Pastor Kent Dodson recognized the congregation’s oneness despite the changes they have faced through the decades, the latest example of which came with the construction of the newest building in 2002. This required the removal of an older building that stood in its place.

“You don’t hear of people tearing down one building to build another,” he said. “I think that speaks of the faithfulness of God and that of His people who were doing the things necessary to continue to grow.”

Dodson said several of the church’s ministries speak of that same faithfulness. These include Upward Soccer, a new ballet ministry, and EMBRACE, an after-school tutoring program.

“These ministries speak to the willingness of people to do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ,” he said.

The church will host a barbecue picnic Saturday, Sept. 27 from 4-6 p.m. in the fellowship hall. Church members will be singing during this time.

The celebration will continue Sunday with the homecoming service, preceded by singing from past and current members. The singing will begin at 9:45, and the service at 11. The Samaritans will provide music during the service, and former pastor Roland Davis will deliver the message.

The Alabama Baptist Historical Commission will make a special presentation during the worship service. A basket lunch will follow in the fellowship hall.

For more information or directions, call the church office at 755-1694.

LHBC: A brief history

The following was taken from a brief history of Liberty Hill Baptist Church compiled by Edna Hicks:

The first worship services were held in brush arbors. Around 1855, members met in a one-room church on what is now known as the Jack Poole place near the old Jemison-Maplesville road not far from Mt. Carmel Baptist Church No. 1, where they met for about 15 years. Charter members were the Foshees, Pools and Littlejohns.

In 1875, another log church was built on the Bill Varden place between Highway 22 and the old Maplesville Highway about six miles west of Clanton. Records show that as early as 1877 the church had become affiliated with the Mulberry Association and had 24 members. There is a cemetery at this location.

When first organized, the church held services one Sunday each month with service and conference (business meeting) on the Saturday before. Communion was to be held once a quarter and there would be set times for foot washing.

In August 1896, a committee agreed to move the church to “the hickory tree near G.L. Foshee’s” (the present location). Travis Headley donated the site. The one-room building was moved to this location and the first service was held Sept. 11, 1897. There were no windows, no heat or air; the benches were made out of lumber. The men sat on the left of the preacher and women on the right.

On Jan. 29, 1978, the church voted to build a new sanctuary and renovate the old sanctuary into educational space. On Easter Sunday, April 11, 1982, the first service was held in the present sanctuary with a dedication message brought by the pastor, the Rev. Roland Davis.

Renovation of the old fellowship hall was started in 2002 for the construction of a new education building with a second floor that remains unfinished for future use.