Church History

Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no Vision, the people perish”. 

             Center Grove Southern Baptist Church was born out of a vision. Six people caught a vision for a church in their community in 1894.  According to the 1894 twelfth annual Convention of the Cullman Missionary Baptist Association, held at First Baptist Church Cullman, the minutes state, “On motion, called for Petitioner Letters. A letter together with its Delegates from Center Grove Missionary Baptist Church was received.”

             Starting in 1894, Elder P.R. Tennison led as Pastor during these early years of the Church. The young church met under a brush arbor in the community, once a month during the warm months until 1898, when the membership was able to build a log structure to house the young church in and to provide for a community Schoolhouse during the summer months. 

In 1898, Rev. J.A. Perkins became Pastor and the young Church continued to prosper with a membership of nineteen.

 In 1901, Rev. R.C. Ledbetter became Pastor. Rev. R.C. was a  circuit-riding Preacher and preached at the church once a month throughout the summer months.

 In 1906, Rev. J.T. Whitaker became Pastor.  When giving some wise advice to some younger Preachers, he is quoted as saying, “Brethren, go preach!  I have farmed enough to ruin my preaching and preached so much I’ve ruined my farming.” 

             In January 1906, Bill Norris, Billy Shickles, Billy Golden, Erapt Wells, Womp Pattillo, Dave Pattillo and others met and decided to build a new church house. Over the next year, the men of the church constructed a one-room log church house. The building once again served as both church and schoolhouse. The building was made of rough-hewn lumber.  The floor was made of 1X12 rough planks and the seats were homemade benches.  The cracks in the floors were so large that hogs and dogs could be seen under the floor. 

The building was dedicated on Easter Sunday in 1907. They assembled for Worship the 3rd Saturday night and Sunday Morning of each month.  On Saturday evening’s, every family would bring a lantern to Church. The lanterns would be placed upon a shelf around the inside of the log church house to provide the lighting. Rev. J.T. was a circuit-riding preacher; therefore he boarded with different families on his ride through to preach the gospel. The Preachers were paid in the fall and were given meat, lard, corn and vegetables each month.

             In the summer of 1907, Sunday School was instituted.  Mr. Albert Oaks was one of the early Sunday School Superintendents.

             In 1912, Rev. J.D. Tankersley became Pastor. Rev. J.D. is remembered for his long black beard and strict interpretation of the Bible.  Church discipline was strictly enforced.  Several members are recorded as being “turned out” for immoral behavior such as going to dances. During services, Men sat on the opposite side of the Church from the Women.

             From 1915-1926 Rev. F.C. Raines pastored the church. Under his leadership, he worked to nurture the young church and helped it to grow and move forward.  During the early part of this period, a lot of young men were called away from home to serve in War World I.  In 1916, a new Schoolhouse was built for the GoldRidge Grammar School. Therefore, in 1923, a new building campaign was begun. The old log church was razed and replaced with a new one room church building. 

            During this time, A.E. Pattillo was ordained a Deacon to serve along side Deacons J.E. Jetton, A.W. Oaks and G.T. Livingston.

                       In 1927-1933, Rev. J.S. Shults and Rev. F.C. Raines alternated year by year until Rev. Raines moved out of the community.

             During these years, the Church had Revival meetings every fall after the fields had been laid by. These meetings were called “protracted meetings”. Meetings would consist of a Morning and Evening Service daily for the whole week.  These were normally great Evangelistic events as well as “revival” time for the church membership. At the end of these “protracted meetings”, there would be a great baptizing Service at an area creek for the new converts.

             In 1934, Rev. Glenn Hembree became Pastor. He started a renewed emphasis on Sunday School and bible study.

In 1935-1948, Rev. J.S. Shults was called as Pastor again.  Emerging from the depression, in 1936, the church decided to replace the one room building with a new modern building, a pulpit area and four classrooms across the back.  Three Ministers were ordained to the Ministry during these years, James Denney, Cleo Bentley, and Ray Moon. L.C. Goodlett, O.W. Harris, Henry Scott, B.H. Parker and Vester Benefield Sr. were ordained as Deacons.

“Foot Washing” as a church ordinance was discontinued during these years. 

            In 1949-1952, Rev. W.L. Hudson was Pastor. Earsie Johnson and Herschel Brock were ordained as Deacons.  Many of the membership were ready to move forward.  Church Services were changed to meeting two Sundays a month.

         In 1953, Rev. A.F. Holden was called as Pastor.  The Church Membership was ready to move forward and the church service times were changed to meeting every Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday night. The church    began to grow and prosper during this time. In November of 1954, the church voted to launch into a major building campaign. The church building was completely renovated. The exterior was brick-veneered, the sanctuary was enlarged to seat 300 people, carpeted and interior paneled, new pews were added, nine new classrooms were constructed across the back of the Sanctuary, a gas heating system and air conditioning was installed and the Church was wired for electricity. On January 30, 1955, the church was dedicated debt free as a result of the cooperation of the congregation and community.


            In 1955-1965, Rev. Glenn Bice was called as Pastor. During these years the Church membership continued to grow and the church caught a vision for a full-time Pastor. Therefore, Rev. Bice was called to serve as full-time Pastor with a $1,500.00 annual salary.  Vester Benefield Jr., Gervis Garrison and Marvin Brannon were ordained as Deacons.  The Membership had now grown to 272. The Sunday School enrollment was 150 and Training Union enrollment was 40. In 1960 the average Sunday School Attendance was 95. Bro. Vester Benefield was Sunday School Superintendent and Bro. Carl Graham was Training Union Superintendent. The Church had 8 Deacons, 6 officers and 9 Teachers.


            In 1966-1968, Rev. J.H. Brown was called as Pastor. Thirteen changes were proposed and instituted by the Church to assist the Church in utilizing the members in a more effective manner.  A Handbook was created to assist in the administrative functions of the Church and Church committees and organizations were strengthened or started with all phases being invigorated.  John Garrison was ordained to the Ministry.

In 1969-1970, Rev. Alfred Phillips was called as Pastor.  The church continued to prosper.  The church caught a vision for renewed emphasis on children’s ministry.  The church launched into a building campaign.   A new five classroom, two bathroom children’s educational wing was constructed onto the right side of the Sanctuary.  The value of the church property was now assed at $69,000.00.


            In 1971-1975, Rev. Billy Wooten was called as Pastor.  During this time there was a rapid growth in membership. The baptistery was added onto the sanctuary, new central heat and air was installed in the facilities, the pews were cushioned.  Land was purchased one-half mile from the Church and a new  $15,000.00 Pastorium was completed, debt free. Carl Graham, Archie Raburn, Tommy Bentley and Jack Kelly were ordained as Deacons.


             In 1975-1978, Rev. Donnell Brown was called as Pastor.  The church membership continued to rapidly increase. To accommodate the new growth, the Church launched into a major building campaign. The sanctuary was enlarged and remodeled, a new Wurlitzer C-70 Leslie Organ was donated for the Sanctuary, new pews were added, a audio system was purchased and new carpet was installed throughout the church facilities. During this time the church also caught a vision for additional classroom space, bathrooms and new church offices.  Therefore, the church launched into another building campaign and constructed the adult educational wing and office space on the left side of the Sanctuary.  The church property was now valued at $100,000.00 and the church adopted an annual operating budget of $43,000.00.  Van Scott, Dolphus Sellers, Perry Ashley, David Shaddix, and Kenneth Mann were ordained as Deacons.  Archie Raburn was ordained into the Ministry.


            In 1978-1981, Rev. Leroy Dickinson Jr. was called as Pastor.  Under his leadership, he led the church to build a $55,000.00, nine-classroom addition and library room onto the existing adult educational wing and a four-classroom addition, church office space and a new fellowship hall onto the children’s wing.  Two buses were added to the church transportation ministry and senior adult ministry was begun.  The church property was now valued at $319,000.00 and the church’s annual operating budget had grown to $76,000.00. Girtis Dyer was ordained as a Deacon.  Randy Makemson was ordained into the Ministry. Bill Smith was ordained into the Ministry and called as Associate Pastor of Senior Adults.  Archie Raburn was also called as Associate Pastor of Children. Jeff Phillips was called as Minister of Music and Youth Pastor. 

  In 1981-1984, Rev. Jimmy Robinson was called as Pastor and continued to lead the church forward.

             In 1984-1988, Rev. Mike Calvert was called as Pastor and led a renewed emphasis on Youth Ministry and Discipleship.

         In 1988-1994, Rev. Al Hood was called as Pastor and continued to lead the Church forward in Christ. Renovations were made on the Sanctuary and the Church Parking lot was enlarged and paved with asphalt.

             In 1994-2005, Rev. Jerry Hall was called as Pastor. Under his leadership, there was a rapid growth in membership and the church experienced a renewed emphasis on evangelism, outreach and ministry.  FAITH Evangelism Outreach was started. The Church Transportation Ministry was reinstated, and four new 15   passenger church vans were purchased during these years. The fellowship hall was enlarged and remodeled, a new handicapped assessable women’s bathroom was built onto the Adult Educational Wing, a new church sign and marquee was added, church grounds were landscaped and the church offices were modernized and refurbished. An electric Kurswell piano was added to the sanctuary along with a new sound booth and audio equipment, computer system, overhead screen, and many other pieces of audio visual equipment. The church experienced a renewed passion for ministry. The children’s ministry was expanded.  AWANA Clubs was begun. During this time, Senior Adult ministry was reinstated and began to flourish. The Church caught a renewed passion for Youth Ministry. Therefore, in 1996, the Church ordained Rob Lambert as Youth   Pastor and the Youth Ministry began to grow and flourish under his leadership.

As the Youth Ministry began to grow, the church envisioned the need for a full-time Student/Associate Pastor.  As a result, in Feb. 2004, the church called Rev. Matt Bonnette as full time Student/Associate Pastor.  In January of 2005, Adam Hall, Jimmy Loyd, Wayne Gardner, Benny Lindsey, Blake Lindsey and Jeff Ashley were ordained as Deacons.  Archie Raburn and Paul Moore were instated as Deacons.


            In March of 2006, Dr. Richard D. Welch was called as Senior Pastor. During this time, the Church built a Web Site, developed a Church Constitution, Articles of Faith and revised the Church Bylaws and Handbook.


Presently in 2006, church membership has grown to 762, the church property is assessed at $1.5 million, and the church has adopted an annual operating budget of $267,000.00. 

 In presenting this history of Center Grove Southern Baptist Church, may we remember where we have come from and continue to “catch the vision” our founding fathers had. May God give us a heart to love, wisdom to discern His will, strength when we are weak and a vision of evangelism and growth in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


            The history of Center Grove Southern Baptist Church has been verified from old minutes of the East Cullman Baptist Association and Samford University Library. Minutes of the business meetings of Center Grove Baptist Church were available from the year 1919.

Grateful appreciation is expressed to James D. Denny and the many other people who have helped to give an accurate account of this history.  


Sincerely, J. Anthony Lindsey      11-16-2006