Organizing a School

 

   In 1912, several families moved into what is now New Life community. Most of the men farmed the land, worked in the woods dipping turpentine or worked at a local Sawmill. The members of the community began to donate money for a school.  This money was matched by the state and a small school was built. The family of Mr. James Carney donated a two acre tract of land for the school sight. The school was a one room school that housed grades one through six. The school was heated by a woodstove; it was the older boy’s responsibility to keep the fire going during the cold months. There was no indoor plumbing and the children enjoyed the pleasures of privies! Picnic tables were built under the trees, a giving a place children to eat their lunches. These tables were used for Homecoming dinners until they were torn down in the mid-seventies. The first teacher was Mr. Nathan Scott.  Other teachers were Mrs. Annie Lou Ruple, Mrs. Edna Tischer and Mrs. Waters. The school was closed in 1945 and the children of the area were bused to Bay Minette.

 

Desire to Study the Word

 

   There were no church services or Sunday school for the people who lived in this community. The family of Mr. Sid Miller became interested in starting Sunday school. Brother Lee White and Carl White of Pine Grove helped to organize a Sunday School and also provide services once a month. At this time, services were held in brush arbors, on lawns and in homes of the families.

 

Organizing the Church

 

 In 1913, the church was established under the leadership of Reverend Shumore Lamberth, who served as the first pastor. The first services were held in the home of Mr. Sid Miller. Some of those helping with the services were Mr. Zack Long, Mr. John Folmar, Mr. Ort Ertzinger, Mr. L.T. Rhodes, and Mr. Virgil Rhodes, Mr. Jemmison and Mr. Carlton Weekly. The church was organized with only 20 charter members. We do not have a record of these members, as most of them have passed away.  These were the families who planted the seeds, who stepped out on faith and who had a strong desire for God’s Word to be taught.

 

Purchasing the Building

 

   On September 13, 1949, the church purchased the school from the State of Alabama. The church was named New Life because there were only a few families and they were starting a new life.

 

A New Sanctuary

 

   On May 30, 1954, the ground breaking services for a new sanctuary, which would be built next to the school was held. The first services in the sanctuary were held on February 6, 1955. Dedication services were held on March 6, 1955. New furniture was purchased in May of the same year. In 1976, the outside of the sanctuary was bricked and in 1977, the inside was paneled. In August of 1978, new furniture was again purchased. It is interesting to note that the pews, pulpit and communion table were purchased for $5,188.12. In 1986 a new baptistery was installed and Mr. Colvin Murph designed the woodwork around the baptistery opening.  In 2011, a new front profile was added to the sanctuary.  At this time, the church enrollment had grown to 185. So far, during the life of the church, the work had passed through a very few hands. 

 

The Pastorium

 

   In 1963, the late J.M. Sanders family donated a parcel of land for a church pastorium. In 1967 a small house was purchased from the Peaden family and moved to the property. Three different pastors and their families lived in the home. These pastors were Bro. Bill Higgins, Bro. Doug Bauldree, and Bro. Freddie Dixon. When it was no longer needed as a pastorium, several of the local families rented the home. The house was later sold and moved off the property.

 

A New Fellowship Hall

 

   A new fellowship building was completed in 1986. This fellowship building is still being used by the church today.                               

 

The First Deacons

 

   There were three deacons which served the church from its organization until their deaths. These men were L.D. McLain, W.J. Lamberth, and W.F. Weekley.

 

   In 1951, three more men M.D. Drinkard, George Miller, and Arthur Stewart, were ordained. In 1954, Sylvester Stewart was ordained. In 1965, Emanuel Quinley, Grady Walton, and Ben Howell were elected as Deacons. More deacons were ordained: Wilson Palmer in January of 1974, was ordained. In 1977, James Glasgow, Jackie Glasgow, and Eugene Stewart were ordained. In 1996, Ronald Richerson, Dwayne Chastang, and Phillip Hollis were appointed. In 1998, Arnold Thomaston was added. In 1999, Clyde Tuberville was invited to serve as a deacon. In 2002, John Emmons was added and then Brian Aaron and Carlton Roberson were ordained. These men have been faithful leaders of the church, and seek to serve the church by serving others.

 

Homecoming 2000

 

   The church has seen a steady growth for several years and felt that this was just the beginning of our growth with an enrollment now at 225. We turned our major focus on the future, now having a fully equipped children’s church in place with qualified leaders training the next generation of preachers, teachers, and deacons.  In 2000, we added a Youth Minister, Hubert Parker, who was licensed to preach in 2002. We added a music minister, Lana Langford in 2001. As a congregation, we know that because we have been faithful in our service to Him, because His Word is taught and preached, He continues to add to New Life Baptist Church. In the year 2000, New Life started the planning stages for a new sanctuary and parking area.

 

Moving Forward

 

   New Life Baptist Church is located just a little over a mile from Interstate 65 in one of the fastest growing areas of Baldwin County. We have seen steady growth for several years and feel that this is just the beginning. At this time our major focus is on the future. Our membership has now grown to 404. In 2009, site work began on the new sanctuary and parking area. Plans were presented to the church and a vote was taken to construct a new sanctuary that would seat 250-300 people. After all the paper work was completed and the by-laws had been adopted, the loan for the building was approved. On July 19, 2009 we held our first services in the new sanctuary. To honor the day our congregation met in the old sanctuary and had prayer and a song and then walked over to the new sanctuary together as families. In April 2010 our Pastor Otis Thames retired. In June of 2011 Pastor John Montalvo was elected to serve as pastor. As God continues to bless, we were able to burn the note and also call our pastor into full-time service. This is a milestone for our congregation because we have never had a full-time pastor. As a congregation, we hold to the truth in the hymn written by Fannie Crosby: “To God be the glory, great things He hath done.” It is the prayer of New Life Baptist Church that we might win souls to the Lord and that we might glorify His name at all times and in all that we do.

 

Former Pastors

 

Shumore Lamberth, H. V. Daffin, L. Tyndall, Adams Lester Weekley, Earl Stabler, W.S. Cruzan,            Bro. Kimbrough, Lamar Trawick, B. Howell Wilson, Hubert Hilton, W.J. Hobbs, H.Peebles,  L. E.  Edge, Nathan Scott, Trelson Moore, Doug Bauldree, Lee White, Bro. Mills, N.L. Moore, Ralph Gwin, R. Riggins, Bro. Willingham, John Dallilo, Bro. Humble, Bill Higgins, Don Cabbaniss, W. C. Higgins, Fred Dixson, Hunter Hall, Otis Thames, current Pastor John Montalvo.

 

Deacons Past

 

L.D. McLain, Emanuel Quinley, W.J. Lamberth, Ben Howell, W.F. Weekley, M.D. Drinkard, George Miller, Arthur Stewart, Eugene Stewart, Sylvester Stewart, Carlton Roberson.
 
 
Current Deacons
 
Brian Aaron, John Emmons, Jackie Glasgow, James Glasgow, Wilson Palmer, Ronald Richerson, & Arnold Thomaston.

 

Conclusion

 

   The history of New Life was first written by Jeanette Stewart Ford.  Jeanette was the daughter of Sylvestor and Rachel Stewart who were early members of the church. In was revised in 2009 by Beverly Morgan Wilson. As we celebrate 100 years of service to the community in 2013, the history was again revised in 2013 by Kay Stewart, wife of the late Eugene Stewart, whose family were also early members of New Life. The information gathered comes from the Baldwin Baptist Annual Associational Minutes dating back to 1914, from local citizens, and from deeds recorded in Baldwin County records. The work goes on. To be continued…