An Early History of First Baptist Church of Meridianville
(Many thanks to Mike Wright and James Dawson for this information.)
A History of First Baptist Church Meridianville, Alabama
Starting as a mission church:
“First Baptist Church Meridianville has a bright future. Whatever it becomes it will always remember that its heritage is not only in its own members but in Christ Jesus, and in many, many people who had a part in its beginning.”
That’s how Brother Hugh O. Chambliss, Executive Director Emeritus, of the Madison Baptist Association, views the future and the heritage of First Baptist Church, Meridianville, Alabama, marking its fifth anniversary on March 22, 1992.
The church grew out of new church plans proposed by the Missions Committee and approved by the Madison Baptist Association in 1986, Dr. Chambliss recalled.
The decision was made to begin five new church missions in Madison County on the same day — March 22, 1987. These churches would be located in areas previously found to be where new churches were needed. One of these new churches was Meridianville.
“The plan was to have a cluster of churches of the Association sponsor each new church,” Dr. Chambliss recalled. Heritage, Harvest, Bethany, Hazel Green and Pineview became active sponsors for Meridianville. The Madison Baptist Association, the Alabama Baptist Board of Missions and the Home Missions Board agreed to work together in providing funding for the purchase of property in Meridianville.
Members of the sponsoring church, the New Work Committee of the Association and State Board of Missions agreed on property to be purchased. Grants from these entities and gifts from sponsoring churches helped pay the pastor’s salary.
As churches, like Meridianville, organized they assumed total responsibility for their leadership, organization and finances.
Most of these churches now have buildings and are meeting needs in their communities after receiving help from volunteers at local and distant churches who helped build the buildings.
Mrs. Jackie Edmunds, is one of the members of First Baptist Meridianville who has vivid memories of the early meetings which led to the establishment of the church in Meridianville as well as to the other four churches.
She described one of those early meetings. “The tables had been arranged into an open square so that each one present would be facing all the others,” she said.
Approximately 40 persons had responded to the invitation to meet and discuss the starting of five new churches, including the one in Meridianville.
“Everyone at the meeting was given an opportunity to speak as to why a church was needed at each location. Many had spoken when Dr. Chambliss, who as chairing the meeting, asked if anyone else had anything they wished to say.”
Mrs. Edmunds recalled how from the other side of the square a gentleman stood who had not spoken before. He was rather small in stature and spoke quietly. He was from Meridianville.
“Several years ago I looked out my back door and saw an airplane flying kind of low over the open fields that bordered my backyard. It circled and came back around again and seemed to dropping something as it flew even lower than before.” The gentleman continued by saying, “I thought this was a strange way for an airplane to fertilize crops. Well it turned out to be seed the plane was dropping – house seed – and they all came up.
“Of course,” Mrs. Edmunds recalled, “the gentleman was using his story to illustrate the need for a church in a growing community like Meridianville where new homes had sprung up almost overnight during the latter half of the 1980s. The gentleman said the seeds were “filled with families most of them young with lots of children. We need a church in Meridianville that can reach them with the Gospel of salvation and ministry in the name of Jesus.”
“The quiet, soft-spoken gentleman was Mr. Frank Bentley, a long-time resident of Meridianville and an active member, with his wife, ‘Miss Nellie’, at Lakewood Baptist in North Huntsville,” Mrs. Edmunds recalled.
“During the months and years that followed, I came to know Mr. Bentley as a man with a vision of what the Lord could do when people respond to me moving of the Holy Spirit. You will find his name listed among the charter members of First Baptist Church, Meridianville, Alabama.”
During much of 1986 work continued in locating property and temporary sites for the Church in Meridianville. On February 26, 1987, the Meridianville Cluster of Southern Baptist Churches began circulating the news regarding plans for the new church in Meridianville. “You know that Meridianville is a great place to live and you are aware of the tremendous growth taking place there. With this in mind and with a real concern for the spiritual welfare of the folks in Meridianville, a cluster of Southern Baptist churches in the northwest part of Madison County recognizes the need for establishing a new Southern Baptist church in Meridianville. The purpose of this letter is to help others who see this need and to solicit their help in beginning this church.”
A rally entitled, “A New Day — A New Beginning,” was held on March 15, 1987 at Lakewood Baptist to get things going for the new churches, wrote the late Mrs. B.J. Chandler. (Today Mrs. Chandler deserves much recognition for the work she did in preserving much of the early history of the Church in Meridianville.)
The first meeting of the church in Meridianville was on Sunday March 22, 1987. Meeting in the Lions Club building in Meridianville, the group chose the name First Baptist Church of Meridianville.
Mr. Buddy Tate of Meridianville, who helped arrange that first service and many more that followed, was careful to record the events of the day. No pastor had been selected as yet by the congregation, so many preachers from around the association filled in during the spring and summer in the Lions Club. At the first meeting, Brother John Turner of Heritage made the announcements.
“The first song we sang was Amazing Grace,” Mr. Tate recalled. Prayer was led by Dr. Lee Hudson of Heritage Baptist, followed by two songs, ‘Blessed Assurance’ and ‘Oh, How I Love Jesus’. Testimonies were given and ‘How Great Thou Art’ was sung.
Brother Charles Godwin, the pastor at Bethany, preached the first service for the Meridianville congregation. Everyone joined together for one Sunday School class. Mr. Tate and his wife, Linda, became the first two members of Meridianville Baptist Church that day. Others who attended the service were Mr. and Mrs. Doug Marona, Mrs. Rubye Fowler, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Chandler, Mrs. Alvonia Bennett, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Bentley, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ezell. At first there were no musical instruments for the small group meeting in the Lions Club. On other Sundays recorded music was brought in by the ones who led the singing. Among those who preached to the congregation during the spring and summer were Brother Godwin, Brother Charles Jones, Brother Jim Edmunds of First Baptist Hazel Green, Brother Hudson, Brother Jim Berry, Brother Charles Miller, Brother Bobby Thornton, Brother Donald Woodward, and Brother Sam Latham.
Early steps to establish a firm foundation:
In May 1987, Brother Edmunds, who was serving as a member of the New Work Committee for the Madison Association, wrote a letter to Dr. Earl Potts, Executive Secretary of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Regarding the activities in Meridianville,” Brother Edmunds wrote, “The church is coming along well. They are averaging about 35 on Sunday mornings after only eight weeks of meetings. The problem the church is facing that will surely affect its growth is building facilities. At the present time we are meeting in a Lion’s Club building. The building was a real God-send to get started but its limitations are becoming apparent very rapidly.” Brother Edmunds continued by inquiring about the possibility of acquiring a mobile chapel from the state association.
On May 3, 1987 with 16 persons present, the congregation discussed the future. Eventually these discussions would lead to the purchase of approximately 10 acres on Monroe Road in Meridianville. According to Mr. Tate, financial assistance to purchase the land came from the Madison Baptist Association. In addition, funds were expected to be available in the near future that would make it possible to call the church’s first pastor. Mr. Tate noted the important role that five cluster group churches in the Madison association would play in the early growth of First Baptist Meridianville.
By June, the tiny, but growing, congregation in Meridianville, was ready to discuss plans for calling a permanent pastor. Brother Stan Albright preached a trial sermon for the congregation on June 14. On June 26 the church sent a letter to Mr. Harold Anderson of the Alabama State Missions Department. The letter stated that the church had voted to call Brother Albright and that the sponsoring churches had accepted the recommendation.
Brother Albright, his wife Joanie, daughter Laurel, and son Joshua moved to Meridianville in August from Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Weatherford, Texas. A native of Alabama, Brother Albright graduated from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
August 16, 1987, was an extremely important day in the history of Meridianville First Baptist Church. It marked Brother Albright’s first Sunday as pastor and it marked the first Sunday that the congregation met in a mobile chapel at 175 Monroe Toad. That Sunday approximately 75 persons attended the service. Church membership at the time stood at 13 with more than 25 people per week attending Sunday School.
By that time, the congregation had acquired a piano. Shortly after moving into the mobile chapel a small organ was donated to the church by Whitesburg Baptist.
Mr. Mike Trent, his wife Joyce, and their children were among those who would come to worship Sunday after Sunday in what became known simply as the “trailers.” (Two other portable education buildings were acquired later.)
“When I think back to me time we were in the mobile chapel, a vision similar to the Old Woman in the Shoe comes to mind – lots of people in a small area, hustle and bustle, children crying (including my own) – and yet there is also a sweetness in the memories of the many smiling faces, the warm, friendly voices, the cozy atmosphere in the Sunday School classes, and the joy of meeting friends old and new each time we gathered.”
Mr. Trent also recalled “rain drenching us as we scurried across the parking lot, splashes of mud on shoes and legs, high heels scarred from gravel, and arriving a bit late only to find the last seats were on the very front row.”
But most of all Mr. Trent and others, like him, recalled: “Memories of God’s Spirit moving through 60 or 70 people as they sang Amazing Grace, the feeling of unity as the small group banded together to step out in faith and accomplish great things for their Lord, and the special emotion that welled up from deep within as these humble servants gladly welcomed and encouraged new folks into the fold.”
Like others, Mr. Trent, recalls the donated pulpit, the donated piano, the borrowed chairs, and the collection of hymnals worn through the many choruses they had seen. “Some of the best handshakes and hugs came from within the walls of that small trailer, some of the best music came from the little tape player as Roger Britton (minister of music) and others sang special praises. And some of the best sermons were preached from behind that borrowed pulpit. I suppose that’s the way it is when we experience spurts of growth. Some of the prettiest flowers of they year are the first blooms of spring.”
There were other remembrances of the days in the trailer as well. Fond memories, like that of Mrs. Rubye Fowler, one of the senior members of the congregation. Even though they are five years older today, many of the children at First Baptist recall that Mrs. Rubye always had a “surprise” for each child after the service. That’s when she would dip in a paper bag and fish out a candy treat for each child. Each child in turn gave Mrs. Rubye a hug. Growth continued at First Baptist Meridianville throughout the fall of 1987. In October 1987, a motion was made and voted on to purchase another mobile trailer to provide needed Sunday School rooms. By November 22, the new trailer had been placed at the rear of the Mobile Chapel and was ready to receive classes.
More important than the facilities and resources the church acquired during its earliest period was its ministry to the community. Even before moving from the Lions Club, the five area cluster churches had helped the Meridianville congregation conduct its first Vacation Bible School, an event that attracted dozens of area children.
Mr. Frank Ezell and his wife Terri began attending First Baptist in the summer of 1987. Frank was the first person saved and baptized as part of the Meridianville congregation. The baptism, which preceded the arrival of Brother Albright, was conducted by Brother Godwin at Bethany.
As the 1987 Christmas season approached, the Meridianville congregation gathered for its first observance of the Lord’s Supper. As the year ended, the congregation was ready to move forward into the new year. On December 16, discussions were held that would lead to the formation of the first Nominating Committee and to the formation of a Music Search Committee. Melanie Patterson of First Baptist Huntsville was Meridianville’s first music director. Eventually the church would extend a call to Mr. Britton.
The church in Meridianville entered 1988 with 52 people enrolled in Sunday School, and adjustments to some classes were already being made in order to accommodate the growing crowd.
The new congregation was also growing closer as evidenced by the attendance at one of its first major fellowships. In all 28 people attended, the event which Mrs. B.J. Chandler recorded in a scrapbook. The group included Frank and Terri Ezell, John and Charlotte Byrd, Jack and Brenda Hayes, Bob and Joyce Gean, Stan and Joanie Albright, Buddy and Linda Tate, Rubye Fowler, Joe and Jean Miller, Christie Miller, Patrick and Barbara Duggan, Dwight and Cindi Gaught, Jim and B.J. Chandler, Ed and Anna Sharpe, Doug and Melinda Marona, and Burt and Clara Knowles.
As early as the spring of 1988, the congregation in Meridianville was already recognizing its responsibility to support missionary efforts just like those that had resulted in First Baptist Church. On April 13, 1988, the church voted to provide a portion of its offerings to the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program, the Alabama Baptist State Convention, and the Madison Baptist Association. There were other efforts to reach friends and neighbors close to home. During the last week of May in 1988, the church rented a 30 by 60 foot tent for a revival to be preached by Brother Stan Albright. Night after night people came to the service to hear the preaching and to hear singing by Pat Fanning and Roger Britton. By April 1988 another 10 persons had joined the Sunday School at First Baptist bringing the enrollment to 62 on April 24.
Two important events marked growth at First Baptist Church Meridianville in July 1988. First the congregation called Brother Albright as full-time pastor. Next, the fellowship voted to officially constitute itself into a church. The bulletin for the chartering service held on July 17 began with First Baptist’s commitment to believing, sharing, and continuing. Among those participating in the service that afternoon were Brother Stan Albright, Brother Jim Edmunds, Brother Jim Berry, Mrs. Pat Fanning, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Chandler, Brother Walter G. Nunn, Brother Charles Godwin, Brother Lee Hudson, Mr. Steve Tondera, and Brother Sammy Brister.
The bulletin listed the following persons as members of First Baptist: Stan, Joanie and Laurel Albright; Alvonia Bennett; Roger and Kathy Britton; John and Charlotte Byrd; Jim and B.J. Chandler; Vaughn and Martha Daniel; Patrick and Barbara Duggan; Frank and Teri Ezell; Rubye Fowler; Dwight and Cindy Gaught; Robert and Joyce Gean; Jack and Brenda Hayes; Garry and Diane Hodges; Fred and Donna Hollis; Tracey Howard; Burt and Clara Knowles; Mary LeMasters; Ron and Babs Lloyd; Ronnie Bennett; Amanda Bennett; Jean Lowe; Doug and Melinda Marona; Joe and Jean Miller; Polly Parker; Don and Teresa Patterson; Lloyd and Gail Patterson; Mark Preston; Ed and Anna Sharpe; Buddy and Linda Tate; Mike, Judy, and Joe Wright; Lynn Yancey. (Frank and Nellie Bentley were also early members of the church.)
That same summer, the church sponsored its second Vacation Bible School which enrolled 27 students and resulted in an offering of $50 for a Montana Southern Baptist Fellowship. About the same time, the church, recognizing the need for additional educational space, arranged to borrow another trailer from the Alabama Baptist Convention. As early as January 1988, the church had already begun to recognize that even with the addition of extra trailers, the church would have to seriously consider plans for building a permanent building. That same month John Byrd, Buddy Tate, Bob Gean and Melinda Marona began serving as volunteers on a Building Planning Committee. Throughout the spring and into the summer, the committee and others worked on plans for such a facility. By summer 1988, the church made plans to break ground for a permanent facility in the spring of 1989.
The Lord Provides…
On September 25, 1988, Meridianville First Baptist Church voted to petition the Madison Baptist Association for full affiliation as a church of equal participation. Other signs of growth, both spiritually and physically, were becoming apparent in the summer of 1988. On August 10, 1988, Brother Albright presented a recommendation from the ordained men of the church to empower the following ordained men as deacons: John Byrd, Jim Chandler, Vaughn Daniel, Bob Gean, Jack Hayes, Ed Sharpe, and Buddy Tate.
There was notable growth in late 1988. Sunday School enrollment climbed from 71 people in October 1988 to 90 persons by January 29, 1989. This growth was sustained into 1989, with enrollment rising to 92 by February 1989, 97 by March 1989, and 99 by April 1989.
In this atmosphere of growth, and with a renewed dedication to serving the Lord in Meridianville, Meridianville First Baptist Church broke ground for a new church building on April 2, 1989. Plans called for a new building capable of seating 320 persons in the sanctuary.
The goal was a bold one for the entire congregation. A half page article in Huntsville News read, “Answering the Challenge, Meridianville Congregation Not Shy When Planning for the Future.”
The newspaper quoted Brother Albright: “We’ve stepped out by faith.” Throughout the summer, dozens of volunteers, not the least of those from First Baptist itself, continued the construction tasks. Men, women, and children labored. Some helped by bringing food and refreshments to their fellow workers. “Our people didn’t want to feel like they sat in a pew and watched the church grow around them,” Rev. Albright said. Volunteers came from both nearby and distant churches. For several weeks the parking lot at First Baptist filled with recreation vehicles and travel trailers which served as temporary housing for construction volunteers like the Alabama Chapter of Campers on Missions, a national organization of the Home Mission Board. In the midst of all this activity was a man of particular importance and dedication. When new volunteers arrived at the construction site, someone always pointed them toward one special man — the man in the straw hat, Brother Ed Hunt. Brother and Mrs. Hunt had joined Meridianville First Baptist early on when talk of construction was just beginning. Together the two of them would bring a special gift to the entire congregation: Brother Hunt’s unique talent for helping oversee church construction projects just like the one in Meridianville. It was a gift that was most graciously accepted and to which the congregation in Meridianville will always be indebted.
Soon the congregation in Meridianville was ready to dedicate the completed new structure to spreading the glory of God’s love and grace throughout the community. By that time, 120 persons were enrolled in Sunday School. Throughout much of the summer of 1988, the rising enrollment had resulted in the decision to temporarily hold two separate Sunday morning worship services. The decision was naturally reversed when the congregation moved into the new sanctuary in the fall.
The new church building was dedicated on September 17, 1989, with Dr. Early Potts as the featured speaker. The service began with a prelude by the ever-faithful First Baptist Church Choir. Participants in the dedication included: Brother Hugh Chambliss, Brother Albright, Brother John Davies, Mrs. Melissa Bryant, Brother Walter G. Nunn, Mr. Roger Britton, Brother Earl Potts, Brother Charles Godwin.
The bulletin listed the following groups of volunteers who made the building program possible: Alabama Campers on Mission; Smith Co. Baptist Association (Mississippi); First Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala.; McElwain Baptist Church, Birmingham, Ala.; Five Points Baptist Church, Northport, Ala.; Parkway Baptist Church, Auburn, Ala.; First Baptist Church, LaGrange, Ga.; First Baptist Church, Haleyville, Ala.; First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Ala.; Mtn. Park First Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Ga.; University Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala.; Trinity Baptist Church, Madison, Ala.; Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala.; Mountain View Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala.; First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ala.; Flint River Baptist Church, Meridianville, Ala.; Winchester Road Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala.; First Baptist Church, Hazel Green, Ala.; Bethany Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala.; and Lakewood Baptist Church, Huntsville, Ala..
The Church Experiences Changes:
Early 1990 proved to be a challenging time in the early history of Meridianville First Baptist Church. Brother Albright tendered his resignation in January. So much growth had occurred. So many new believers had come to join the fellowship. It was a time that called for full faith in the power of Jesus Christ to lead his people in Meridianville.
God’s vehicle for leadership at First Baptist Church throughout the winter, spring, and summer of 1990 was Brother Jim Edmunds, who graciously served as interim pastor. On April 8, 1990, the Deacons recommended and so moved that the following people be placed on a committee to search for a permanent pastor: Vaughn Daniel, John Byrd, Doug Marona, Linda Putman, and Joyce Trent.
Shortly thereafter, First Baptist held its first Deacon election. Those elected were: John Byrd, Vaughn Daniel, Patrick Duggan, David Hayle, Don Putnam, Buddy Tate, and Mike Trent.
On August 8, 1990, a Pastor Search Committee Report was presented by John Byrd. According to the minutes of that meeting, “He stated that the committee had narrowed the number of candidates tone, Brother H.D. (Bud) Swindall of Sandersville, Mississippi. After visiting Brother Swindall and his wife Barbara, the committee made a unanimous decision to call and ask him to come and lead us in worship.” On September 9, the church, acting upon a recommendation by the deacons, unanimously voted to extend a call to Brother Swindall. Brother Swindall accepted the call. There was renewed emphasis on outreach and visitation. A school was held on lay evangelism, with twelve people in attendance. Discipleship training was begun for the youth at 5 p.m. on Sunday’s. The outreach director, Vaughn Daniel, reported that from 12 to 16 were participating in Monday night visitation. On account of Brother Bud wanting to further train the deacons, the church extended their terms of service for an additional year.
Growth and commitment to Christ continued in 1991 for First Baptist in Meridianville. After the resignation of Roger Britton in November 1990, Brother Larry Lloyd began service as the Church’s third Minister of Music, assisted by his wife Anita, who served as pianist. Mrs. Linda Schroder served as organist. The fellowship recognized its many new members by hosting a new members cookout. The loan for the church building was moved to Community Bank in Meridianville. At this time, the balance was $272,093.93 with 180 payments of $2759.76. The blessings that First Baptist’s senior adults bring to all of us were marked by a special Senior Adults Day on June 23, with a cookout on June 22. The Singing Ambassadors visited First Baptist. The church marked May 1991 as 100+ Month in Sunday School. During the summer the church organized its first softball team and a golf tournament was held. There was renewed emphasis on establishing children’s choirs. The church and choir honored Scott Shiver on May 19 upon his return from duty in the Persian Gulf War. Numerous events were held involving organizations like the RAs, GAs, WMU, and others. The church also provided spiritual and financial support and volunteer assistance to the Huntsville Wide Jay Strack Crusade.
On September 1, 1991, the church bulletin reported, “Last week we were blessed with 108 in Sunday School. What a blessing we would receive if we reached this number and more every Sunday.” Sunday School Director Patrick Duggan already noting the need for additional Sunday School space voiced similar sentiments.
In early 1991, an interest was expressed in offering a Mothers’ Day Out Program ministry at First Baptist. In July, a group consisting of Tracey Shiver, Anna Sharpe, Joyce Trent, and Barbara Duggan recommended that the church allow them to pursue starting such a program in the fall. The church approved a plan for a six-month trial period, at which time there would be a re-evaluation of the program. Organizational meetings were held and the program began on September 4 offering assistance to parents of children aged 16 months to five years. In September, the director, Stephanie Abercrombie, reported that there were 25 children enrolled with six teachers working. The program which continues to enjoy success was named “Wee Care.”
As the 1991 Thanksgiving and Christmas season approached, the adult and children’s choirs provided special music. Several other church-wide dinners and events were held as well. In addition, the church youth held a Christmas tree sale to raise funds for a retreat in Birmingham. The Women’s Missionary Union also began sponsoring an ongoing food pantry at the church.
In the midst of all of the activities listed above as well as dozens of others, Meridianville First Baptist remained focused on its primary mission — soul winning. At the end of the service on January 12, 1992, every church member was given the opportunity to share their commitment to share the gospel with people who are without Jesus. The emphasis was named, “Soul Winning Commitment Day.”
“Let’s keep it up and praise the Lord”
Spiritual and physical growth continued in 1992. Active deacons were John Byrd, Patrick Duggan, Chuck Murdock, Don Putman, Scott Shiver, Mike Trent, Gilbert Whitworth, and Mike Wright. In this atmosphere, Meridianville First Baptist Church began plans to mark its fifth anniversary. A letter was sent to all charter members inviting them to a special service on March 1, 1992 with Dr. Troy Morrison, Executive Secretary of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, delivering the message. There was also a covered-dish luncheon and a special afternoon service to recognize the charter members.
A church newsletter distributed to the membership on March 15, 1992, noted that 16 new members had joined First Baptist since October 1991. In that same newsletter, Brother Bud Swindall offered the following reflection on the church’s approaching fifth anniversary:
“It is a time of praise to the Lord when a church celebrates its 5th anniversary. I praise God for every prayer that went into the establishing of First Baptist Church, Meridianville. For every survey made in seeking the interest of beginning our church. For every early member who caught the vision and worked hard planting good seed.
Churches are brought forth out prayer. For those churches of this association, those individuals of this convention, and people of this community who prayed even before we were born five years ago, we praise the Lord. There is still much birth to be done as we grow in favor of man and God. So keep on praying; we praise God for you.
Churches just don’t happen. We praise God for those that served God in unknown ways to bring our church into conception. For every effort that was made by those who never intended to be members here and by those who became members, we praise God. Still much work is being done. Let’s keep it up and praise the Lord.
Vision! What a vision our early members had. They have blessed us with a beautiful building to start with. They also provided us with people that will have a vision to add unto the church daily those who are needed. Praise God for them and their vision. Let’s all catch a vision of what God wants for us.”
In 1992, Bud Swindall left and was replaced by Charles Jones who served until June 1995. Richard Anderson was music minister, and Jason McKeown was the youth minister. The summer of 1995 saw much change with the departure of Charles, Richard, and Jason. Walter Nunn served as interim pastor during this time. In December 1995, Tommy Bolan, the current pastor, began his service. The staff also included Jim Gorin as music minister and Michael Rhoden as youth minister. Ground was broken for a new education building to adjoin the original building. A highly successful challenge-to-build program was executed to help pay for the building. The education building was completed in Oct. 1997.
The period of 1996-1999 was one of rapid growth. The attendance at worship services grew; a second morning worship service was added in May 1997. Sunday School attendance grew toward levels of 300 or greater, rapidly filling in the additional space provided by the new building. In the fall of 1998, a “state of the church” service was held; a long-range planning committee reported that the church had an immediate need for additional staff and building space. In Feb. 1999, a building committee was formed. The year had begun with Kevin Swaim serving as interim youth minister after the resignation of Michael Rhoden. That summer, Jim Gorin left and was replaced by Jack Cahoon as interim music minister. Terry Siniard was called in Sept. 1999 as the new youth minister.
In the spring of Mar. 2000 David Hutto was called as full-time associate pastor. In May, ground was broken for a new family life center. In Sept., Ron Whiddon was called as the new music minister. A second challenge-to-building program was undertaken, “Forward to Faith.” The “hallelujah” goal was $900,000. In August 2002 FBCM called Joel Wiley as music minister to lead our worship services and direct our choir.
The church has always been stepping out on faith to glorify our Lord Jesus. God’s Holy Spirit is working in the members of FBCM as they seek to carry out the church mission statement: “to seek out individuals and to lead them from whatever point they are to become mature followers of Jesus Christ through worship, discipleship, and fellowship in an environment of Christian love.”