This year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of The First Baptist Church, Headland, Alabama in 1867. This milestone is being celebrated during the entire year of 2017. A special historical emphasis is being presented each month during the morning worship service. A major recognition of the anniversary is scheduled for Sunday, April 23rd. This special Sunday service will begin at 9:30 AM. During the service, the Celebration Choir will present a mini-musical titled, The Church Triumphant, by Bill and Gloria Gaither. There will be no Sunday School or evening ministries that day. The public is invited to celebrate with us. The church is located at 301 East Church Street, Headland, Alabama.
The following is a brief history of the church.
The First Baptist Church of Headland was organized in the early part of 1867 as The Baptist Church of Christ at Bethlehem with an enrollment of eight members. The Church was admitted to the Judson Association as Beulah Church in the same year. The Rev. Thomas Scott was the first pastor and Bro. William Whitehead was the first deacon. J. S. Kirkland was the first member to be received for baptism after the church organized; he then served as the first church clerk.
The first building was located on what is now known as 1 Cleveland Street. On September 28, 1889, the name was changed to Baptist Church of Christ at Headland. In 1893, a new church building was constructed at the corner of East Church Street and Peachtree Street (now known as Martin Luther King Drive) at the location of our present cemetery. Later, the church constructed a third new church building in 1909, which became the Chapel in 2007 upon completion of the new Worship Center, at its current location on East Church Street. The church voted to incorporate as The Headland Missionary Baptist Church under the laws of the State of Alabama and was formally recognized on February 26, 1906. The name was informally changed to the First Baptist Church in 1954. While this name is typically used today, the church officially changed its name to “The First Baptist Church, Headland, Alabama,” on December 31, 1969.
During the early years of the church, services were held only on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month. On March 6, 1909, the church moved from quarter time to half time. In 1924, in preparation for calling a pastor, a vote was taken on the matter of going from half time to full time. The vote was unanimous. During the depression years, the church went back to half time preaching. Dr. J. B. Lasseter served as pastor during these trying years. In 1935, the church voted to go back to full time. Rev. B. T. Beckham was called as pastor. In this same year, a Sunday School annex was built. A second Sunday School annex was completed in 1947. A pastorium which is now church offices was added in 1959. An educational building was constructed in 1961. A Children’s Building was built in 1989 and a Ministry Center added in 1995.
In 1940, Roby J. Lee was called as pastor where he served faithfully until July 1956. God richly blessed his ministry as he was able to render a great service by leading this church into greater works. Bro. Lee was the only Pastor Emeritus of the church. He went home to be with the Lord in 1996 at the age of 99. Pastors Don Watterson (1957-1958), Louis Wilhite (1959-1964), John Lindsey (1965-1970), Don Phillips (1971-1974), David Southerland (1975-1977), Henry Cox (1978-1981), Robert (Bob) Ferguson (1982-1985), Burney Enzor (1985-1989), as well as numerous Interim Pastors, followed in service to the Lord and our church. Rev. Norman Simmons served as Pastor from July 1990 to February 2001. On October 22, 2001, Dr. Cecil Sanders was called as Senior Pastor and continues to serve our church today. From a very small beginning, the church has grown to the current membership of 1,068 through the godly leadership of these men.
The First Baptist Church celebrated its 100th birthday in services October 15, 1967, with dinner in the fellowship hall following Morning Worship. The church celebrated 120 years of existence at a Brush Arbor Day on Sunday, October 11, 1987; celebrated its 125th anniversary on Sunday, November 1, 1992; and celebrated its 130th anniversary on January 25, 1998.
The Church’s ministry continued to expand with the initiation of a TV Ministry in 1989; establishment of a Child Development Center in 1991 along with the Food Pantry; initiation of a Church Counseling Ministry in 1993; realignment of ministry staff in 1996 to meet the growing needs of the church family; implementation of the Long Range Planning Goals in 2002; completion of 40 Days of Purpose in the fall of 2003; selection of a Building committee in December 2004; selection of the Together We Build Capital Fund Raising committee in December 2005; adoption of new Worship Center Building Plans on May 7, 2006; implementation of two Sunday Schools and one Worship Service on November 4, 2007; dedication of a new Worship Center on November 18, 2007; selection of the Beyond Measure Capital Fund Raising Campaign committee in February 2008; and selection of the Bridge to Tomorrow Capital Fund Raising Campaign committee in February 2011.
With God’s blessings, we retired the debt on the Worship Center in March 2015. Additionally, the Chapel is currently being re-purposed into a multi-use facility.
In recent years, God has blessed the church family with a deeper prayer life, a fervent love for one another, lives changed by our Savior, Jesus Christ, passionate worship and a heart for missions-local, national, and international. Our mission statement is “Glorifying God by Knowing Christ and Making Him Known”. There is an air of anticipation as we see God pouring out His blessing on His church for His Glory!
Written on March 6 2017 by Rod Bayne