First Baptist to celebrate 175 years of ministryPublished 4:11am Thursday, November 28, 2013
The bell that sits on a pedestal in front of First Baptist Church on Tallassee Street almost didn’t survive the Civil War.
In desperate need of metal for cannonballs and bullets, the bell was removed to be melted down. But the war ended before the historic bell melted away in the smelter.
And the history of First Baptist Church goes back even further than that. The church, founded in 1838, will celebrate its 175th anniversary Sunday Dec. 8.
“This church has survived though the years and continued to serve, reaching out into the community and literally around the world,” said the Rev. Gary Wiggins, who has served as FBC’s pastor the last five years. “People from all over the country have come to Dadeville and found a home and place to worship here.”
The church was first organized on Dec. 1, 1838. The first congregation was just nine community members. They first met in a member’s home, then moved to a Masonic Lodge.
The first sanctuary was built on Lafayette Street in 1854. It survived the Civil War, but was destroyed by fire in 1910. The next year, the congregation rebuilt on the current site on Tallassee Street, “a magnificent new building,” according to a historic marker that will be placed in conjunction with the anniversary celebration. On Sept. 4, 1964, the current sanctuary was dedicated “to the glory of God and to His service.”
Wiggins said the “togetherness of the congregation” is something that’s impressed him during his tenure in Dadeville. The extensive renovations the church has seen in past years has been one sign of that cooperation, he said.
“The church has spent close to a million dollars all together on the renovations,” he said. “When you spend that much money and do it with one heart among Baptists, that’s impressive.”
Wiggins said there was a strong foundation to build upon when he arrived, after 24 years with Pastor Jim Pate.
He has been pleased in recent years to see the church work to attract younger member and improve its outreach to young families.
“It’s a church for everyone, from children to senior adults. We’ve also focused on doing more missions work, both locally and internationally,” he said. “We try to minister not just within the body, but throughout the community.”
The church congregation is around 250 on an average Sunday, Wiggins said.
Members are making plans this week to post the marker provided by the Alabama Historical Association, marking the long, proud tradition of First Baptist Church of Dadeville.