EDITOR’S NOTE — This article originally appeared in Fruitful, a special publication produced by TAB Media in partnership with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. View a digital copy of Fruitful here.
By Lonette Berg
Alabama Baptist Historical Commission
The Alabama Baptist Historical Commission collects, preserves and shares God’s story, and the history of each of our Alabama Baptist churches is part of that story. Even through times of challenge and change, His story continues.
Church history often includes high points of worship, ministry, fellowship and service, and sometimes reflects low points of conflict and challenge. There are times when a vibrant, active congregation goes through transition, coming to a point where the congregation decides the church must close.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an especially challenging time, with several congregations facing difficult questions about the future. The Historical Commission was privileged to help some of these churches ensure the story of God’s work through their congregations would continue on by preserving their historical materials.
First Baptist Church Center Point and Fairfield Highlands Baptist Church, churches in the Birmingham area, once had vibrant ministries.
They were known as “mega” churches in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Despite modest beginnings, both churches grew to have large Sunday Schools; dedicated Woman’s Missionary Union groups; exciting children’s ministries, including graded choirs, camps, VBS and missions education; vibrant youth ministries; excellent music programs with large choirs and special presentations; and large bus ministries bringing thousands of children to church to hear the gospel and be nurtured and encouraged.
Both churches gave faithfully and generously through the Cooperative Program. When established in 1926, Fairfield Highlands had a founding principal that a percentage of every regular offering be given through the Cooperative Program. At one point, that giving grew to 25%.
Both churches were leaders in associational and state convention programs and ministries. Both supported missions. Both were focused on preaching the gospel, teaching the Bible, serving the community, discipling believers and developing supportive and loving fellowship among their members.
But changes in circumstances over many years and much prayer and discernment led both families of faith to determine that the churches would have to close.
The Historical Commission was privileged to partner with FBC Center Point and Fairfield Highlands to preserve written materials, photographs and stories.
As each of these congregations worshipped together for the final time, the Historical Commission helped collect their materials, transported them to the Special Collection Department of Samford University and placed them in the Alabama Baptist Historical Collection, where the story of God’s work through these families of faith will be preserved and protected for present and future generations.
The Historical Commission can help all Alabama Baptist churches preserve history through records preservation ministry, whether by placing records in the collection or by microfilming records and returning them to the church.
The stories of God’s work in our lives and our churches are a continuation of His grand story of love and faithfulness. As we preserve our church records, share our stories of faith and celebrate God’s faithfulness, we assure His story will continue.
Partnering with churches
The Historical Commission is thankful to partner with churches to collect, preserve and share that story. For more information about the ministries of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission, go to abhconline.com or call 205-726-2363.
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