The St. Emanuel Church History First Missionary Baptist Church Because of the absence of early records, it is difficult to give absolute accuracy of the beginning of St. Emanuel (First Baptist) Church of Linden, Alabama. This history is based on the memory of the oldest member, the late Mary F. Adams and the Photostat copy of the deeds. Mrs. Adams is the mother of Sister Doris J. Farris and Sister Velma L. Jones (both current members of the church). In the year of 1876, a group of Christians came together and organized a church, which they named St. Emanuel Baptist Church. The minister and leader was Reverend McIntosh. The deacons and trustees were Phil Drummond, Nelson Hogan, Joe Walker, David Grant, Burwell Hogan, Pleasant Hogan, George Williams, Willie Williams, Stewart Houston, Jerry Banks, Albert Hudson, and John Hudson. They purchased two and a half acres of land from Mr. and Mrs. S. P. Tate for one hundred dollars in January of 1876. The deed was recorded in October of 1876. Reverend B. G. Glover of Sidneyville was the second pastor. The church progressed rapidly and was able to move from the �brush harbor� to a nice frame structure. Many souls were added to the church. Rev. Glover served until the year of 1898. In the year of 1898, Reverend E. W. Shields of Dayton, Alabama accepted the pastorate of the church. In the year of 1900 he moved to Linden, Alabama in order that he would do a better job of leading the church. Under his leadership a new church was erected and furnished with new pews and a bell that could be heard from miles around. Many converts were added to the church. Rev. Shields� pastorate came to an end after ten years of service. Reverend Holmes, of Rembert Hill, was elected pastor in 1908. He was a gospel preacher and was much beloved by the entire church membership. He worked faithfully and diligently, and the indebtedness for the church edifice and pews were paid off. Rev. Holmes served ten years. Once again, the church found herself without a Shepherd. In 1918, a local minister was called to pastor St. Emanuel Baptist Church. He was the Reverend John Smith, who served a short time before the Lord called him home. In 1920, Reverend G. H. Conners, father of Sister Bessie Adams, was called to pastor the church. Being a very busy minister, the tenure of his service was very short. He served only one year. In 1922, St. Emanuel Baptist Church extended a call to the Reverend B. W. Coats of Selma, Alabama. He accepted the call and served faithfully for six years. Rev. Coats was a progressive young minister and did much to improve the time element for worship. The Sunday School hour was set for 9:30 a.m. and the Morning Worship hour was set for 11:00 a.m. Many times he preached only to the children who attended Sunday School, as many of the adults thought Sunday School was only for children, however the membership soon became time conscious and arrived at church on time. Rev. Coats instituted the Bible Study for the officers and Sunday School teachers twice a month. It was under Rev. Coats� administration that the name change for the church came about. A decision by the pastor and members resulted in the name of the church being changed to First Baptist Church. After serving as pastor for six years, Rev. Coats resigned to accept the call to pastor a church in Meridian, Mississippi. Around 1929, the Reverend W. B. Foster of Camden, Alabama was elected pastor of the First Baptist Church. He moved his family to Linden and he and his wife rendered wonderful service to the church. Sister Foster organized the Sunbeam Band and served as directress. She also served as Bible teacher for the Missionary Society. The children of First Baptist Church were richly blessed while being directed by Rev. and Sis. Foster. They had an unusual interest in young people. Reverend and Sister Foster was dearly missed when he was called to pastor a church in Electric Mills, Mississippi. It is not noted in the chronology of the history of the church whether there was a pastor between the years of 1934-1937. In 1937, Reverend D. A. Harrison of Selma, Alabama accepted the pastorate at First Baptist Church. The years of depression were upon the church; therefore, very little progress was made from a materialistic standpoint. It was during this time that the church was destroyed by fire and worship was moved to Linden Academy. Rev. Harrison served faithfully and was a wonderful minister and pastor. Reverend C. A. Tunstal of Demopolis, Alabama was extended a call and accepted the pastorate of First Baptist Church. Rev. Tunstal was a progressive young minister and the church was pleased with his service. World War II interrupted his tenure of service, since he felt God needed him more in the Armed Services; he resigned to enter the military. Reverend M. C. Cleveland, Jr. of Uniontown, Alabama answered the call to First Baptist Church. After serving a short while, his tenure as pastor came to an end. Again, First Baptist Church was in need of a Shepherd and Reverend J. C. Lawson of Haynesville, Alabama accepted the call to pastor the First Baptist Church. He served faithfully for several years, but because of failing eyesight he resigned. In the fall of 1951, Reverend J. H. Rowe accepted the call from First Baptist Church. He was the thirteenth (13th) pastor. During the succeeding years, many achievements were realized. The church (badly in need of repair) was remodeled: indoor restrooms were installed, the baptistery was installed, and new pews were purchased. As time passed, the congregation continued to prosper it was deemed necessary that a new church building should be constructed. The officers and pastor got bids from several contractors and the contract was awarded to Mr. Ed Hosea, a member of the church. The work was soon started and was almost completed when ill health overtook Mr. Hosea and he passed away. His widow, Sister Ollie Hosea, requested that his funeral would be conducted in the new church; the church was opened for that service on July 16, 1972. Many achievements were realized during Rev. Rowe�s administration. The present church building was constructed. Many souls were baptized and added to the church. After almost twenty-five (25) years of service at First Baptist, the Lord called Rev. Rowe home to rest. Again the church was without leadership and Reverend James A. Reeves, a native of Dayton, Ohio and a student at Selma University accepted the call to become pastor of the First Baptist Church, in September of 1976. That same year First Baptist Church celebrated her Centennial Anniversary. Reverend Reeves was the first pastor to serve on a fulltime basis. Being a young man and the first full-time pastor, he wanted the youth and the young adults to be active in all phases of the Church�s worship experience. He set aside a special day on the church�s calendar for Youth Revival. He encouraged further participation by setting aside a special day on the church�s calendar for each organization (Sunbeams, Crusaders, Junior Missionary Society, and Young Matrons). Rev. Reeves also organized the Inspirational Chorus. Some of the materialistic achievements that occurred during Rev. Reeves� tenure were paying off the existing mortgage on the church in half the allotted time; the P. A. system, and central heat and air were installed. Plans had been made and the finance committee was available to complete the vestibule project. In general, there seemed to have been a �spiritual awakening� in the church. Many souls were added to the church. His tenure ended after eight (8) years and ten (10) months when he accepted the call to the First Baptist Church of Sheffield, Alabama. Reverend Frederick A. Blackburn, Sr., of Tuscaloosa, Alabama accepted the call to become the fifteenth (15th) pastor of the church. He served eighteen (18) years and ten (10) months. Rev. Blackburn preached and led the church as God would have him. His wife, Sister Lillian Blackburn, joined to help make their tenure a successful one. Much was accomplished and Rev. Blackburn continued in his efforts to inspire First Baptist to be all that God would have. Physical improvements included: the renovation of the sanctuary; purchase of new musical instruments; hymnals and Bible for the pews; new appliances for the kitchen; new lights were installed; the pews were padded; the Pastor�s office was renovated; new furniture was purchased; and lastly the finance office was refurbished and updated. Five Deacons were ordained, of which four are currently serving, and two Ministers were issued licenses under Pastor Blackburn�s tenure. Many converts were baptized and added to the church. Pastor Blackburn preached spirit-filled messages each time he entered the pulpit. On the Fourth Sunday in October 2004, Reverend Fredrick A. Blackburn, Sr., accepted the call to his home church in Fosters, Alabama. Again the First Baptist Church was without a leader. �Where God guides, He also provides.� He provided us with a Shepherd, our sixteenth (16th) and current pastor, Reverend Robert E. Pearce, Jr., of Livingston, Alabama. During Reverend Pearce�s tenure, thus far, a Youth Ministry has been incorporated into the Worship Service; attendance in Bible Study has increased. The church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit has experienced renewed spiritual, physical, and financial growth. In addition, Reverend Pearce has quickly bonded with the membership through personal contact, home visitations and phone calls. He has ordained four deacons, purchased a P.A. System, redecorated the Fellowship Hall, bought new choir robes, increased the membership tremendously, and paved the parking lot. He along with the Ministry of Deacons makes regular scheduled visits throughout the community and the nursing homes. The First Missionary Baptist Church of Linden is an active member of the First Mount Pleasant District Baptist Association, The Southwest State District Convention, Alabama Missionary Baptist State Convention, The National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, and The National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Incorporated. *The major part of this history was written by the late Sister Mary F. Adams; condensed by Sister Ellie M. Young; and submitted for summation by Sister Velma L. Jones, Sister Rosa Hollis, and Sister Ella L. Johnson.
Empowering our members to experience the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ
Rev. Robert E. Pearce, Jr., Pastor
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism
Sunday School - 9:30 A.M. Morning Worship - 11:00 A.M.