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Church History

Church History

history-chestnut First Baptist Church Prattville was originally organized as the Unity Missionary Baptist Church on December 8, 1838. The church's beginning grew out of a conflict among many Baptist churches over the issue of missions. The closest church to Prattville was an anti-missionary, or Primitive Baptist church. Several members who were convinced that missions were an integral part of the church left to form their own church where missions would be emphasized. Reverend G.W. Molett was the first pastor, serving from 1838 - 1840.

As the city of Prattville grew, so did the church in the 1830's. In October of 1840, Daniel Pratt deeded land on the western side of Autauga Creek to the church. A building, approximately thirty feet by forty-four feet, was constructed. From 1842 - 1843, A.W. Chambliss served as pastor. Following Chambliss' departure, the church relied on two of its members for delivery of sermons two Sundays out of every month. In 1847, P.H. Lundy came to serve as pastor for two years and would later return for a second period of time that lasted from 1856 - 1872. In the interim, D.R.W. McIver was called to pastor the church. In 1866, economic hardships following the Civil War drew more people to the church. The growth in attendance continued throughout the Reconstruction period and church membership grew from 54 to 220. Washington Wilkes served as pastor for a brief time in 1873 when the church also began to hold regular weekly prayer meetings every Tuesday night. Henry Clay Taul was then called as Pastor and he served for ten years. In the past, an annual call was issued each September for the following year's pastor. During Taul's stint as Pastor, the call was essentially dispensed with. So it was very difficult to find a replacement for Taul. John J. Cloud was eventually called for a two year pastorate. The church officially dispensed with the annual call and in December of 1885 called L.G. Skipper for an "indefinite time".

Robert Macon Hunter succeeded him and left Prattville in 1892. J.E. Bell was called in February of 1892 and died in 1894 while serving the Unity Missionary Baptist Church. In the summer of 1894, Alexander Theordore Sims was called to replace the late pastor. During his six years as pastor at Unity, the church built a new house of worship on the corner of Chestnut and Tichnor Streets. On June 18, 1899, the church moved into its new building. In addition, the church realized that to borrow the money needed to build, they needed to incorporate themselves. The church decided that they would rename themselves Prattville Baptist Church. The dedication of Prattville Baptist Church's new building was followed by an 11 day revival.

history-construct1954 On July 29, 1900, the church called Rev. A.J. Preston, and he was followed by E.E. George. By 1907, church membership had gone from 251 to 409 and some Sunday School classes were forced to meet in homes due to the growing rate of attendance. L.L. Gwaltney was the next preacher at the church and left in 1910, to be followed by E.T. Smith. An annex was built during this time to house the overflow of Sunday School classes. Then with the start of the war, William Rigell, pastor since 1917, was only able to stay 19 months before being called into service.

Joseph Walter Avery was pastor in the late 1930's when the church decided to broadcast its morning worship service over WCOV of Montgomery. The one hour broadcast cost $1.50.

In 1938, the church celebrated its centennial anniversary with a 10 day revival and homecoming celebration. Carey E. Cox was called to serve as the church's pastor in the spring of 1941 and was then followed by H. Richard Bills. As the oldest and strongest Baptist church in Prattville, on May 9, 1947, the church voted to rename itself First Baptist Church of Prattville. In May of 1950, John Olin Richardson replaced Bills as pastor. Under Richardson's guidance the Autauga County Association was established and First Baptist Church became a major supporter of the organization.

history-washingtonThe church body continued to expand and felt the need for more room. After much planning, the church embarked on a new building project and on April 11, 1954, the congregation attended their first service in the new facility. Building projects continued as Sunday School space was desperately needed. Following the unexpected death of Richardson, Donald Allred came to serve as interim pastor and in December of 1959, the church called Allred as their next pastor. Jerry Helms was pastor until 1975, and the church continued to experience phenomenal growth. Al Finch came to serve as pastor next, and many new programs, such as Mom's Day Out and the Kindergarten were established. In 1986, Randy Atkinson was called as pastor and then the church called Travis Coleman to lead the congregation. As Coleman acclimated himself to First Baptist in 1989, Greg Steele, Minister of Music, and Keith Stephenson, Minister to Students were able to hold the church body together as the new leadership began to meld with the remaining strongholds. September 1993, also marked the completion of the new sanctuary that allowed the church to return to one Sunday School and one church service for about a year. David Suddath returned to First Baptist after working in the mission field, to serve as Minister of Education. history-worshipFor the time this rounded out the staff, but in as the church grew and similarly the demands grew on the staff, a new position was established. The church decided that a minister dedicated to the adult area of the church would be quite beneficial. In 1995, Kenneth A. Hoomes was hired as the Minister to Adults. In 1996, Debbie Conway was hired as full-time Director of Children's Ministries. In the summer of 1999, David Suddath resigned and Kenny Hoomes was then also given the title of Associate Pastor and Minister to Adults. The following fall, Keith Stephenson also resigned, leaving two vacancies on the church staff. A year later, Ron Prevatte was called to be the Church Administrator and Larry Jenkins was called as the new Minister to Students. In 2001, as the new century began the preschool division was blessed with a building all their own. The room that was desperately needed for the growing ministries was completed and ready for occupancy.

First Baptist Church has been blessed with great leaders and a supportive membership. A strong foundation was laid in the 19th century and continues into the 21st century. God's blessings have truly been upon us. May He find us faithful in future days.