A new century, a new vision

Published 4:00 am Saturday, October 11, 2008

If you attended what is now Mountain Creek Baptist Church 100 years ago, you would find yourself in the Alabama Confederate Soldiers Home, located on the site of present-day Confederate Memorial Park.

The church held its first services in the Old Soldier’s Home memorial hall from 1908 until 1910, when the first church building was erected.

“That’s what Mr. [Clifton] Stephens always told me,” church member Erma Dennis says. “He was the historian of the church.”

Records indicate many Confederate soldiers were still members of the church in the 1920s. This fact is found among the church’s earliest historical records, as all minute books prior to 1917 were burned in a fire that destroyed Bro. Bebe Baxley’s store.

The first church building stood just west of the existing structure, which was completed in 1954. Several additions have taken place since that time, church member Velma Anderson said.

“When it was first built, we didn’t have bathrooms, running water or anything,” she recalled.

Dennis said in the late ‘50s, when she was a teenager, the church was booming with young people.

“I can sit here and see where people have sat 50 years ago,” she said.

“Me too,” added Anderson.

Pastor Carey Waldrop said it saddened him that the church’s membership is not what it was then.

“It sounds so negative in a sense, but it’s true,” he said, adding, “You have to have a new vision and a new hope for the future.”

Fortunately, through a partnership with West End Baptist Church, Mountain Creek has seen its numbers increase twofold in a year’s time.

Through its van ministry, the church has gone from having virtually no children in its services to having about 16. They are also partnering with West End in VBS and other community outreach programs.

“We’ve got to get out of the church building and go kingdom building,” Waldrop says from time to time.

Nearly 100 former members and pastors have received invitations to the 100th anniversary and homecoming tomorrow. Among those planning to attend are Vera Grant, the oldest member at 90, and Thomas Lee Hudson, the longest standing member.

Each family attending will receive a historical booklet complete with old and new photos and plenty of fun facts such as:

The earliest known pastor was J.A. Cannon

The value of the church property in 1918 was $1,500 with preaching being held on the second and fourth Sundays with a membership of 136.

On April 18, 1920, Bros. W.J. Gray and C.G. Glenn were appointed to change the church doors to open outside (as provided by law in the last legislature).

Services Sunday will begin at 10 a.m. followed by lunch. During the service, a member of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission will make a presentation to the church.

Also, guest singers The Kellys from Lawrenceburg, Tenn. will sing both during the service and after lunch.

– Scott Mims can be reached at scott.mims@clantonadvertiser.com.