Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Church Life in Alabama

Along with being the university archives, the Special Collection is the repository for the Alabama Baptist State Convention and strives to preserve the history Alabama’s religious life. Collecting photographs of churches and church activities throughout the state allows the Special Collection to document Baptist life in Alabama.

River Baptisms, for example, are not common anymore, but were very common in the early 20th century when this photo was taken. Though not featured in this picture, long poles were used to check the depth of the water, making sure it wasn’t dangerously deep. The church members stand on the river bank of the Cahaba River ready to welcome a new member to First Baptist Church, Trussville.

Stewardship revivals are done to help church budgets and finances.  This stewardship revival took place at the Johntown Baptist Church in June of 1947.  The church interior might look familiar- it was used in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.

Baptist churches may choose to be members of Baptist associations, known as BAs in the Special Collection. In the Alabama Baptist State Convention, Baptist associations are organized along geographic lines. There’s a great map of the current Alabama Baptist associations on the Special Collection webpage

Annually, Baptist associations meet for discussion and fellowship. This meeting of the Central Baptist Association in 1903 was held at the First Baptist Church in Weogufka, Alabama, and was attended by many pastors and messengers from various churches.

Of course, associational meetings were also occasions for festivities as can be seen in this 1914 picnic photograph.

Many of our students here at Samford and many of us are members of Sunday school groups not unlike this one in 1900 at the East Gadsden Baptist Church, part of the Etowah Baptist Association.

These are only a few of the wonderful photographs housed in the Special Collection documenting the rich religious life of Alabama. 

Images and Text contributed by Rachel Cohen of the University Special Collection.

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