Baptists celebrate 150th anniversary

In preparation for the 150th anniversary celebration of the Shelby Baptist Association on Saturday, Nov. 2, the Rev. Charles Stroud is walking 240 miles and paying a personal visit to some 61 churches.

The association will celebrate its anniversary on

the grounds of Fourmile Baptist Church

in Wilsonville beginning at 9 a.m. for what

the Rev. Stroud calls a day of &uot;singing, praying, testifying

and preaching.&uot;

The day will also include what he calls the largest covered dish lunch in Shelby County

involving members from the 59 association churches.

Highlights of the day will include a presentation of the association’s history, a book signing of the church history by author Cathy Butler, a special sermon by Dr. Mike Shaw and gospel music performed by the Brasher Family and the Melton Family. A health clinic will also be operated by a number of nurses under the direction of Jackie Fredrick.

Earlier in the day, beginning at 6:30 a.m., there will be a group walk from the Wilsonville Church to Fourmile Church.

The Wilsonville group walk will complete a 240-mile trek by Stroud in 17 days to each of the 59 churches of the association plus Valleydale Baptist and Brook Hills Baptist. He has

been joined along the way by his wife, Mildred, and walking buddy, Clyde Greer.

Stroud said the purpose of the walk is to unify the churches of the association in prayer for each other and to make them aware of each other.

He said the reason he’s walking instead of driving from church to church is because that was how people traveled in Biblical days and because people got around by walking or riding in horse-drawn wagons in the early days of the association.

Stroud said he is also carrying a prayer and a greeting from one church to the next along his walk.

The Shelby Baptist Association was formed with 10 churches to do mission work, to encourage each other and to provide training for church leaders and workers, according to Stroud.

The Fourmile church site was the location of Bethesda Baptist in 1852, where the association held its first meeting, he said.

Stroud said Bethesda Baptist, which no longer exists, was begun in 1824.

He explained that the 150th anniversary celebration will be held &uot;to celebrate what we have accomplished as a group of churches, to reflect and plan for the future.&uot;

Among goals for the future Stroud said will be a ministry to &uot;internationals&uot; (Hispanics) and a ministry to families.

He said the focus on families will be developed due to the fact that the family is coming under attack by society.

Of course, Stroud said, the association will continue its current ministries and new work.

New work, he explained, is the purchase of property for church sites in strategic areas of need so that all the members of a new church will have to do is build a building.

Stroud noted that the Calera area is booming, and there is not a church between Columbiana and Calera.

According to Stroud, the Shelby Baptist Association is a completely voluntary cooperation among 59 Southern Baptist Churches in Shelby County, which do missions together that none could do alone.

Ministries located at the association headquarters in Columbiana include intercession prayer in which prayer requests are prayed over and prayer grams are sent to those for whom prayer has been offered.

The prayer continues for 12 hours each Thursday with a different person praying each hour. Also prayed for are churches in the association and their staffs.

The association provides clothing and food for those who have been burned out of their homes or who are in need from all 59 churches.

There is the Daily Bread Shop which fills orders for food and the Widow’s Mite Shop which provides clothing.

During one day recently, the association served 22 families with this ministry. But to receive the food or clothing, a person must call for an interview and meet with a volunteer counselor.

Unlike a state agency, the association volunteers can pray with and counsel those who receive its benefits, Stroud said.

&uot;It helps people who are destitute as far as food and clothing and helps them to get a fresh start,&uot; he said.

Also in Columbiana are an Earthly Treasures Shop where clothing is priced from 25 cents to $1.

It is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. And &uot;anyone can come in here,&uot; said Stroud.

The Association offers GED classes on Tuesday. There is also a shoe ministry in which the association works with counselors and schools in Shelby County. He said students never know from where the shoes come. The Association provides 400 pairs of shoes per year on average.

The association also operates a ministry in association with the Department of Human Resources and the Auto Tech School.

In that program, participants are provided a car to help them get over that last hurdle to get a job. But they must be participating in the program though DHR.

There is also the Christmas Gift Shop, which is an outreach ministry giving hope to families through personalized gifts while inviting them to take &uot;The Journey of Love to meet Jesus Christ.&uot;

In 2001, more than 400 volunteers from the churches of the Shelby Baptist Association, other denominations, businesses and hospitals joined hands and hearts to minister to 1,131 children and parents