Remembering Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church

By FRANKIE OSBORN / Community Columnist 

During the month of September 2020, the Board of Directors of Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church made the difficult decision to close the doors of the church for good. When I asked the group what caused them to decide to close, their response was, “Well, we just didn’t have enough people in attendance to pay for the increased costs of keeping it maintained.” It was obvious as we spoke that it was a painful decision to make.

Mt Tabor was established on Aug. 20,1857. The property was donated by George G. and Purnelea Crawford, and I quote, “With a purpose of earnest desire to promote God’s kingdom on earth.”  It has always been an iconic part of Westover, attracting folks from all over the area. At the time it was established, it was located on the main road that went through town. Old Highway 280, which is now Westover Road, was the only way to travel from Birmingham to Auburn and other larger cities. The present U.S. 280 with four lanes was not opened until 1981.

Two of Westover’s most elite citizens are Leon Archer and his wife, Margie. He is the great-great grandson of the Crawford family that donated the land for the church. Leon is the retired probate judge for Tallapoosa County and was a Shelby County Commissioner prior to that position. They had many memories to share about the church and his family.

He said, “My great grandmother used to live in the white house that is now Camelot. She would have the pastor come stay with her before the parsonage was built. At that time, the pastor would only come into town on weekends.”

He went on to tell many memorable events at the church and said it was sad that it is closing.

Growing up in Westover, I remember attending revivals, fish fry dinners, yard sales and other events at the church.  Our community has always been a close-knit group, and no matter what church you attended on a regular basis, we all gathered at special events together.

The church has now been donated to the city of Westover, and the plan is to make it a community center named Mt. Tabor Municipal Annex.

I spoke with Mayor Larry Riggins and he said, “We are so excited about the opportunity to have this new facility for meetings and events with larger crowds that cannot be accommodated at the current City Hall. We believe it will be a great asset and will bring together our city and the surrounding areas as well.”

He also said, “We are currently making some necessary renovations to bring it up to certain codes for public use and hope to have it ready soon. Once the work is completed we will have a ribbon cutting ceremony, so stay tuned.”

The cemetery will still be managed by the current Mt Tabor Cemetery Association. Members are R.G. “Lil’ Bit” Moore, Betty Lee, Linda Hoagland, Wayne Jones, April Taylor, Betty Elliott and David Nance. The parsonage is being sold to fund future upkeep of the cemetery, and I will be helping them with that through Lucky Realty of Al LLC.

I am sad the church has closed after 164 years of service to our community but also excited to see what future plans will bring to this building. New memories to be made and new friends too!