Church to mark 155 years of existence

Published 7:23 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Liberty Hill Baptist Church, located on County Road 37 in Clanton, was formed in 1858. The first known worship services were held in brush arbors.

Liberty Hill Baptist Church, located on County Road 37 in Clanton, was formed in 1858. The first known worship services were held in brush arbors.

Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Clanton has built a rich history since its formation in the mid-1800s, and current members will celebrate with a 155th homecoming on Sunday, Sept. 22.

The Kempters will be in concert at 10 a.m., and Justin Nelson, one of Liberty Hill’s former youth ministers, will deliver the message.

Nelson’s wife Valerie will sing as well.

A potluck lunch will follow the service.

After the 155th homecoming celebration Sept. 22, Liberty Hill will have homecoming every five years.

Previously, Liberty Hill held homecoming every year.

“We have decided that we are going to start every five years and just try to make those celebrations more special,” Ministry Assistant Tina Deason said. “We felt like we could make it more meaningful if we had a celebration every five years.”

Deason, a long-time Liberty Hill member, has served in her secretarial role at the church for six years.

Deason said many of Liberty Hill’s historical benchmarks were researched and compiled into a booklet for members prior to the church’s 150th anniversary in 2008.

According to records, the church was organized in the mid-1800s, with the first worship services held in brush arbors.

In the 1850s, members met in a one-room church near the old Jemison–Maplesville road, near Mt. Carmel Baptist Church No. 1. They met in the one-room church for about 15 years.

Charter members were the Foshees, Pools and Littlejohns.

On Aug. 8, 1858, the members met and drew up the Articles of Constitution, recorded in the Archives of History in Montgomery.

The Articles of Principles were drawn up later, and the Rules of Decorum were adopted on Dec. 8, 1860.

In 1875, another log church building was constructed between Highway 22 and the old Maplesville Highway, about six miles west of Clanton.

According to records, the church had become affiliated with the Mulberry Association and had 24 members as early as 1877.

A committee was formed in 1896 to locate another site for the church, and the committee agreed to move the church to its current location, also known as “the hickory tree near G.L. Foshee’s.”

The first service was held in the remodeled building in September 1897.

In 1898, a 1.5-acre plot was given as a burial ground by G.L. Foshee, with additional space later given by Edgar and Olive Foshee Littlejohn.

The first marker is dated Feb. 1, 1900.

By 1901, the church’s membership had reached 109.

The first pastorium was built and dedicated on March 13, 1949.

The Rev. Fred Lowery and his family were the first people to occupy the pastorium, which was sold in 1965 and moved off the church’s property.

In January 1978, the church voted to build a new sanctuary and convert the old sanctuary into educational space.

Liberty Hill purchased a new steeple in 1988, and the front of the sanctuary was paneled and stained glass remote doors were installed in the baptistry in 1995.

A family life center was built on two acres adjacent to the church in 1998.

Renovation of the old fellowship hall began in 2002 to construct a new education building with staff offices, a kitchen, dining area, library, classrooms and an unfinished second floor available for future use.

“We’ve been able to increase our ministries through that,” Deason said of the new facilities, which also house the Sportsmen’s Spectacular, one of Liberty Hill’s largest annual events featuring a wild game supper and speakers who share the gospel.

“Our gym is transformed into wild game central,” Deason said. “We do it just to reach out to the community, to reach lost souls. We have had quite a few people saved as a result of that.”

Deason said the church is in the process of trying to further its relationship with the Hispanic community by partnering with Primera Iglesia Hispana Bautista de Chilton, a Hispanic church in downtown Clanton.

Liberty Hill Baptist Church is located at 5800 County Road 37 in Clanton. The Rev. Kent Dodson is senior pastor.

For more information, call the church office at (205) 755-1694.