Clanton church to mark 65th anniversary

Published 5:26 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2014

West End Baptist Church will celebrate 65 years of existence during two services Sept. 28.

West End Baptist Church will celebrate 65 years of existence during two services Sept. 28.

West End Baptist Church in Clanton will celebrate its 65th anniversary with special services Sept. 28.

Friends, family and former members are invited to join the congregation in celebrating the church’s 65-year history in Chilton County.

“We want to remember God’s faithfulness to us for the past 65 years and also honor the sacrifices previous generations have made,” Dr. Daniel Wilson, West End’s pastor, said. “We want to look forward to how God is going to use our church in the future.”

On Sept. 28, Wilson will preach at the morning service at 10:30 a.m., and the Rev. J.W. Shaw will bring the message at the evening service at 6 p.m.

Shaw served the church from 1973–1985.

A reunion choir will perform in the morning and evening services.

Anyone who sang previously in the choir is invited to sing in the reunion choir.

Those who wish to sing need to meet in the choir room a few minutes before the service in which they plan to sing.

“It will be a familiar song that they know, and they’ll just come up to the choir and join,” Administrative Assistant Christl Doody said. “There is nothing they need to do other than just come and sing.”

Finger-food fellowship, pictures and a video for all to view will immediately follow the evening service.

A basket will be available to receive cards for the Rev. and Mrs. J.W. Shaw.

Doody said the last anniversary celebration the church held was for 50 years.

“This isn’t monumental like the 75th, but we want to recognize it,” Doody said.

The church started as an offshoot of First Baptist Church in Clanton.

“Members of First Baptist Church were the forerunners of starting this church,” Doody said. “We were like a mission church to them.”

In 1949, a small group of Christians—most of whom were from First Baptist Church—felt led to begin a church on the west side of Clanton, according to church records.

They sponsored the new church mission, which was called the West End Baptist Mission.

On April 24, 1949, Dr. Harper Shannon preached the first sermon, which was held in the “Tiger Grill” building on Fourth Avenue North.

The group moved to the “Lime Cola” building on Second Avenue North on Sept. 15, 1949.

Ten days later, the church voted to become West End Baptist Church.

The Rev. R.E. Wilkins was called as the first pastor and began his ministry on Oct. 30, 1949.

Since then, the church has continued to grow and carry out the Great Commission to try to reach “Every One, Every Where, Every Way.”

The church started with 27 charter members and currently has more than 1,000 members on roll.

Wilson has served as West End Baptist Church’s pastor for two years and said he has seen an increase in membership.

“That’s what it’s all about: reach people with the Gospel of Christ,” Wilson said. “We have seen growth and people coming to know the Lord. We’re still anchored to the same Gospel message, but at the same time, we’re also trying to reach the culture in which we’re living while remaining rooted and grounded in the word of God.”