A first for First Baptist: 150 years of worship

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2006

Many churches across Alabama are celebrating milestones this spring.

The spiritual seeds planted by small, enthusiastic bands of the faithful more than a century ago are still flourishing in communities today.

First Baptist Church of Greenville, celebrating its 150th anniversary this April, is one of those proud congregations.

&#8220I think we have always sought to be an integral part of this community. I believe that is First Baptist Church's lasting legacy here,” Rev. Tim Patton, pastor of the church, said.

The church is marking the occasion with special services this Sunday, April 9.

&#8220We have sent out an invitation to our former pastors, staff, soloists… basically, everyone who has ever held a microphone or played a keyboard, we asked them to be part of the celebration. Most have said ‘yes,'” Patton, the minister of FBC since Oct. 2002, said.

The day will kick off on Sunday at 9 a.m., the church's normal Sunday School hour, with a fellowship continental breakfast.

&#8220We hope many of our out-of-town guests will be able to join us for the breakfast and a chance to catch up with one another,” Patton said.

At 10 a.m., an extended worship service will begin. Special music and recognition of former pastors, staff members, and greetings from the City of Greenville and the State of Alabama are all planned for the occasion.

Special members will also be recognized during the day, Patton said.

&#8220We hope to have our oldest member, who is 102, attend the services, along with the member who has been with FBC the longest. She was baptized into the church on our actual anniversary date, April 28, 1928, nearly 80 years ago,” the minister said.

A fellowship luncheon will be served following the morning worship service. At 1:30 p.m., a celebratory service will be held, featuring more special music, along with recognition by the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission and the Butler Baptist Association.

&#8220We will also recognize all those who grew up through the ministry of the church

– in GAs, RAs, Bible drill and other activities. Danolyn Poole and James Peavy will also be sharing memories of their times at FBC,” Patton said.

The minister said the church also plans to rededicate the church's cornerstone, returning some of the old items removed last year and placing some new items inside, &#8220with the hope the cornerstone will not be removed again until 2056.”

Patton says this weekend's celebration is not just about &#8220recalling the past.”

&#8220We will be looking at all God has done through our history. 150 years is a significant heritage. But we also see it as a springboard for what lies ahead. God is not done with First Baptist or with Greenville,” he said. &#8220Recognizing that fact will help lead us on to what we will become tomorrow.”

Patton and his staff are excited about the upcoming weekend and expect between 400 to 500 people to attend the services with approximately 400 sharing the midday meal together.

&#8220We are preparing for an overflow crowd with closed-circuit television to be set up in the lower level so our older members can attend with ease and enjoy the service,” Patton said.

He is looking forward to the future at First Baptist.

&#8220We have seen a real growth in families with young children here,” he said. &#8220I feel the future of our church is very, very bright.”