A look back at Baptists
Today, June 24, is observed as St. Jean-Baptiste Day in our neighbor to the north, Canada, and there, especially in the province of Quebec. Even though this is not a holiday celebrated in Alabama, John the Baptist is honored in the names of thousands of churches scattered throughout the state. In Quebec, St. Jean-Baptiste Day is a public holiday with elaborate publicly financed festivities on both June 23 and June 24. Wherever there are sizable concentrations of French Canadians in the U.S., this holiday is also observed with similar ceremonies. Here in the southern U.S. as elsewhere, Christians recognize John the Baptist as the forerunner to Christ.
Dec. 31, 1823—There are now five Baptist churches in Morgan County (Cotaco County)—Spring Hill, Salem, Mount Pizgah, Hopewell, and Shiloh.
Sept. 1, 1872—Bethel Baptist Church was established. (approximate date). This was a decade prior to the establishment of another Baptist congregation in Hartselle. George C. Hartselle gave the land needed to erect a building for worship and he and Rev. John D. McClanahan are identified as the church’s founders. The “original” church is significant to the history of the Baptist movement in Hartselle because it was established 3 years before the city of Hartselle was incorporated. Establishment of a Sunday school preceded the creation of the church congregation.
Feb. 25, 1901—Revs. Joseph Shackelford and Jackson Gunn of Trinity, two leading Baptist divines, were circulating among their many friends in town today.
Jan. 27, 1909–The remains of Mrs. O. T. Anderson, who died at Cullman on the 25th inst., were interred today. A large crowd of friends from Cullman attended. The Baptist church here, where the services were held, was entirely too small to hold the large crowd. One of the largest funeral processions ever seen in Hartselle followed the remains to the cemetery.
Jan. 12, 1922–W. W. Parker was buried five miles south of Moulton today. He was a Baptist minister with that strength of character that has marked men of that faith for the past two or three centuries. Twelve of his 13 children are still living.
Feb. 9, 1923—Baptists of Morgan County will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the denomination in the state with a program to be rendered in Hartselle.
Jan. 11, 1942–Billy Stephenson, a ministerial student at Howard College, preached at Gum Springs Baptist church today.
Feb. 22, 1942–Billy Stephenson was ordained “to the full gospel ministry in the Baptist faith” by the Hartselle Baptist church today.
Jan. 27, 1943–Rev. John D. McClanahan celebrated his 99th birthday today. Recently failing health has kept him from walking to town every day to sit on the “old soldier’s bench” and talk with his friends.
Jan. 27, 1943–On Wednesday of each week a Bible study class is being taught at MCHS. It began today. Different pastors of Hartselle churches are taking part. It was started by the Rev. Frank T. Smith of the Hartselle Baptist Church.
Jan. 1, 1989—Ron Wilson preached his first sermon as the new minister of the Hartselle Baptist Church.
Feb. 1, 1998—Dr. Vernon L. St. John, 92, president of the AEA during 1967-69, died. He was a member of the State Senate from Morgan County when the sales tax was enacted to vastly improve funding for public schools. He was also very active in the state Baptist convention.
March 25, 2001—Rev. Junior Hill of Hartselle, a widely known Southern Baptist evangelist, is currently conducting a revival at Underwood Baptist Church in Florence. Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., awarded Rev. Hill a doctor of divinity degree last year.