West End Baptist to celebrate 70 years

Published 12:14 pm Thursday, August 29, 2019

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

West End Baptist Church in Clanton will be commemorating its 70th anniversary with a special service on Sept. 29 at 10 a.m.

Associate Pastor Eddie Lightsey said the event will feature “exciting worship,” presentations about the history of the church and a meal.

“We will not be having Sunday School that day,” Lightsey said. “We will start our worship service at 10 a.m. in our sanctuary.”

Guest speaker for the event will be Dr. Charles Carter, former pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham and former president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

Carter had also served as the interim pastor for West End for about a year and a half.

“He has just been a treasure to our congregation, a treasure to our state as a leader,” Lightsey said.

The history of the church will be featured by the historical committee.

“Our historical committee has been working for a year in collecting information and making sure the documentation is correct,” Lightsey said.

The historical committee is led by chairperson Becky Pierce, who is also the church organist.

Pierce is the daughter of West End Baptist’s first pastor, Rev. R.E. Wilkins.

“After the worship service, we are going to have a covered dish lunch in our Family Center,” Lightsey said. “We will have all kinds of food.”

The church started as a mission of First Baptist Church in Clanton with a Sunday School class on April 24, 1949. Lightsey said there were 67 people at that initial service.

The church was officially established on Sept. 30, 1949. Services were held in existing buildings until an educational building for them to meet in was built. Lightsey said there was a groundbreaking for this building on April 21, 1950. Work on the first sanctuary began on March 7, 1954. The first service was held in the building in November of that year.

In 2010, work began on a new sanctuary. The project was completed in 2015. There were 750 people in attendance when the first service in the new building was held in 2016. Rev. James Watkins is the senior pastor of the church.

Throughout the church’s history, its prayer ministry had been an important focus.

“This church has been bathed in prayer since its conception, throughout the years we’ve had a vibrant prayer ministry,” Lightsey said.

The ministry is strong to this day and is now led by Arie Wise.

“We don’t do anything that is not bathed in prayer,” Lightsey said.

He said the church also has a focus on missions and evangelism as well as a strong discipleship program.

A second wing for offices and classrooms is planned for the future.

“God has just blessed this church and continues to bless it with wonderful people,” Lightsey said.

Because of the length of the morning festivities, West End Baptist will not have evening service on Sept. 29.

West End Baptist Church is located at 2005 Second Ave. N in Clanton.