Russell churches displaying constructive mindsetcomment (0)
August 22, 2002
By Johnie Sentell
Members of two churches in Russell Association have been celebrating the past and looking toward the future.
At Philadelphia Baptist Church, Smiths Station, members held a reception Aug. 11 for Pastor John Rigby and his wife, the former Margie Little, in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. Brother Rigby has served as their pastor since March 1983.
Organized in 1829, Philadelphia is the oldest church in Russell Association. Although the congregation meets in Lee County, it is not far from the Russell County line.
Church secretary Sherri Bramlett said the reception drew “a very good turnout,” attracting not only people from the surrounding area but also people from other churches Bro. Rigby has served.
The Rigbys have two children and four grandchildren. Their son, John Mark, owns a trucking business, and their daughter, Gina, is political director for AFLAC insurance company in Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia’s members have had another reason to rejoice this year: their new church building, dedicated last spring, was completed at a cost considerably below original estimates. However, the process involved a lot of “sweat equity.”
Early estimates of the cost had ranged from $3 million to $5 million, but Philadelphia’s members built the church themselves and furnished it at a total cost of only $1.6 million. For four and one-half years members of the church — men and women — worked on Tuesday and Thursday nights and on Saturdays to build the new facility.
Philadelphia’s members were definitely thinking ahead. The church is averaging 400 in worship attendance now, and Sunday School attendance is in the 250–300 range. The new sanctuary seats 800 people, and the educational space will accommodate up to 1,400.
Soon another Russell Association church will be breaking ground for a new facility — Golden Acres Baptist Church in Phenix City. The church has experienced remarkable growth in recent years.
Brother Tommy Fountain began serving as pastor of Golden Acres in 1997. There were 85 people attending his first service there.
Now Golden Acres is averaging about 600 in worship and more than 400 in Sunday School.
During the past five years Golden Acres has added 880 new members and has led the association in baptisms. The church has gone to three morning worship services — 8:30, 9:45 and 11 a.m. “The 9:45 is just for youth and singles,” Bro. Fountain noted.
The pastor said the church’s main focus has been evangelism. “It is the No. 1 mandate God gives us, and it is the hardest ministry to do.
“If you come to our service, at first you might think we are charismatic, especially with our music,” Bro. Fountain said. “But theologically we are very conservative.”
There are 12 preachers in the membership of the church. Two are the sons of Bro. Fountain: Tommy Jr., 20, and Stephen, 18. Five are retired ministers, and there are four other “young preacher boys,” Bro. Fountain said.
Golden Acres will break ground this coming Sunday, Aug. 25, a little less than a mile from the present church location. Phase One of the relocation will be the construction of a $3.5 million building to house the sanctuary, educational space, office complex and a gymna-sium/fellowship hall.
The church has developed a special relationship with Glenwood School, a private school with more than 700 students in grades K–12.
“It has a been a unique situation,” Bro. Fountain said. “It has been a win-win situation for our church and for Glenwood School.”
For three years Golden Acres has been involved with the chapel services at the school and has provided leadership for the school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Brother Fountain serves as chaplain for all the athletic programs there, and the church provides counseling for Glenwood students in crisis situations.
“We have an excellent ministry team that works with students, including James and Gina Harper and others,” the pastor noted.
Tommy Fountain Jr., singles minister for Golden Acres, is also an assistant coach in varsity football and varsity baseball.
David and Terra Hardwick do the children’s ministry at the church. They have a child at Glenwood.
Golden Acres recently hosted a special service and reception for Wayne Trawick, Glenwood’s retired head football coach and the “second winningest” coach in the state of Alabama with 286 wins. He retired after three years at Glenwood and 41 total years as a head football coach. An overflow crowd attended the special event.