By Sam Luther, WVUA 23 Student Reporter
Before Tuscaloosa, even before the state of Alabama existed, there was the First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa. Founded in 1818, the church was founded before the city in which it stands. Now, in 2018, the storied church celebrates turning 200 years old. The church’s official birthday is January 24. But the name of this Tuscaloosa landmark hasn’t always been the same…
Pastor Gill McKee says it began as Ebenezer Baptist Church, and after three name changes over two centuries, they finally landed on the name you see today. Over the years, the church has seen 32 pastors take the pulpit. The first was Nathan Roberts in 1818, and now in 2018 that title belongs to Gill McKee, who is still in awe of the history of his church.
“Yeah well it’s mind boggling,” McKee said. “I mean, you know, to be a part of a church or for that matter any organization that has existed that long and has the kind of history that this church does.”
Though the church moved from log cabins to different building around Tuscaloosa, Pastor McKee said that the mission and the message has remained the same. He credits that to the longevity of his church, and the fact that the purpose of their existence has always been for the right reasons: integrity. With 200 years of life, you surely have some.
When the pastor of 18 years was asked what his life verse was, he responded with this:
“Philippians Chapter 4 Verses 6 and 7: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication through thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.”
First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa will be holding special services to commemorate their bicentennial on January 21, 24, and 28. If you want to join them in their celebrations, they’ll have special services January 21 and 28, and a guest speaker Wednesday, January 24 at 6 p.m. For more information on these events, the church, or its history visit their website here.