West Blocton Bible Methodist

Alabama Bible Methodist Conference

 

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History of the Bible Methodist Church

West Blocton, Alabama

This has been recently updated with information from Michael Paul of Ada Chapel.

West Blocton Bible Methodist was originally call the Wesleyan Methodist Church and was formed shortly after a revival which occurred in the nearby town of Brent, AL.  The name was changed to Bible Methodist in the summer of 1967.

The earliest records available indicate that the first service were held on December 1st, 1906 by Pierce Ramsey.  You can see P C Ramsey's original sermon note book here.  The first sermon was took as it's text 2nd Thessalonians 1:1.  The second written record of the church appeared in the local newspaper called the "Enterprise" on February 2nd, 1907. See the microfiche copy here.  It announced services at Wriffht's Hall by P C Ramsey (original spelling for the article but normally called Write's Hall).  The announcement mentioned that the Sunday School Superintendent was J. W. Bracknell.

From the book by Michael Paul, written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Ada Chapel Bible Methodist Church we read:

"West Blocton was the second church to be organized in the Alabama Mission. Early in 1907 P.C. Ramsey started holding church in West Blocton (possibly after Ada Chapel Church was completed.) For the first time a notice in the February 2nd 1907 issue of the Blocton Enterprise announced that Wesleyan Methodist Church services were to be held at Wrights Hall in West Blocton. The newspaper’s advertisement read as follows:

“Wesleyan Methodist---Services every second Sunday at 11:00 AM and 7:30 PM and on Saturday before the second Sunday at Wrights Hall. P.C. Ramsey pastor Sunday School every Sunday at 3:00 pm. J. S. Bracknell, Superintendent.“

”Wrights Hall was the principle meeting place for the towns various groups and organizations. The Hall also served as the “Court House” for the Blocton Division of the Bibb County Court. Charles Edwards Adams tells us in his book BLOCTON that “The upstairs accommodated the meeting room and downstairs housed a grocery store and briefly, and African-American managed dry cleaners. In October 1923, because of age and structural problems, it was torn down. Once, when it creaked and groaned with a full house, court had to be dismissed and moved to the Opera House.”

 As far as is know the first pastor to organize the church into a permanent body was J. A. Wood with the help of Rev. Alfonzo French as evangelist who was also known as Father French. Alfonzo French had two boys who were also ministers named Will and Rob.  They figured prominently in the founding an organization of many Wesleyan Methodist Churches.  J. A. Wood organized the church after a gospel meeting in nearby Brent, AL.  The first church was a tent meeting held in the rough mining town of West Blocton.  Click here for more information on the History of the Wesleyan Methodist Church as a denomination.

Charles Edwards Adams writes in his book "Blocton - The History of an Alabama Coal Mining Town" the following notes about the church:

By 1914 a church had been built in the West End for the Wesleyan Methodist.  The original building is today the sanctuary for the West Blocton Bible Methodist Church.  It has been reported that a preacher named French helped organize the church and that year J. D. Muse was the Sunday School superintendent.  Serving as preacher during the 1920's was Rev. E. M. Stamps.  Other early members were the John Gilbert family, and the Cassidy and Bracknell families.  The Arthur Finnen family is among the church membership today.  The John Finnen and Will Finnen families and the Fayette's, and the G. C. Fredrick families were active in the church for several decades.

Also in the book:  H. ROBB FRENCH -- PIONEER, PROPHET AND PRAYER WARRIOR  Compiled By Anna Talbott McPherson  we read  that shortly after Pastor J. A. Wood, Will French became the pastor for a short time.  During this time his brother, H. Robb French pastored the nearby Tuscaloosa, AL church.  Below are excerpts from the book.  You can read the whole text by clicking on the link below.  Please observe the copy write by not making printed copies.

Here are some quotes from the book from page 38.

The summer following, the French family were in a tent meeting at West Blocton, Alabama.  Rev. J. A. Wood was the good pastor of a thriving church in this mining town. God gave a wonderful meeting there. It did not reach the proportions of the Pell City meeting, but large crowds attended, and night after night the whole front of the tent became an altar. There was a tremendous moving among the young people. As in all meetings of this character, there was a falling away. Even so, some are still standing and some have made it through to the City.

The second reference is on page 39.

A Wesleyan Methodist Church was organized at Pell City.  Father (Rufus Alfonzo French) took the pastorate there.

Sometime later, the West Blocton Church was without a pastor, and Will French was called to that place.  God used him as a shepherd of the flock there and he had a successful pastorate. Will was always devout and energetic. When he undertook a task, he trusted God and went into it with all his might.

Robb French took the pastorate at Tuscaloosa. Before long they built a new church. After two enjoyable years at this place, Robb went back into evangelistic work and traveled the conference part time, holding quarterly meetings.

On June 23, 1919, Robb was married to Geraldine Trusler. They had grown up together, and now it was the Lord who brought them together in matrimony. Geraldine was to be a wonderful helpmeet indeed, sharing the burdens of both their pastoral and evangelistic ministry.

Though we do not have a complete list of the early members, here is a partial list of some members dating back to as early as 1933.  This list may not be complete.  If you know of other that are not included please click here to let us know.

Starting in the later part of 1966 we begin to read in the church quarterly business meeting records of the impending merger of the Wesleyan Methodist Church with the denomination known as the Pilgrim Holiness Church.  We know from other records of that time the controversy surrounding this movement.  Many in the Wesleyan Methodist Church opposed this change.  The church record for September 28th, 1966 reads as follows:

The Wesleyan Methodist Church of West Blocton voted on the merge.  The vote was as follows:   Votes Cast 10 all no's.

The next record of this issue is recorded as follows:

On Sunday Night February 5th, 1967 the West Blocton Wesleyan Methodist Church has a business meeting to decide whether or no we wanted to merge with the Pilgrim Holiness Church.  It was left to the church to vote yes if we wanted to go, No if we wanted to continue as we are.  Nine votes were cast, all No's.

However, the prevailing vote in the majority of Wesleyan Methodist Churches was for a merger of the two denominations.  This occurred on the national level and in the summer of 1968 the two denominations merged to form the new denomination which is today called The Wesleyan Church.  However we read the following information in the church record for October 4th, 1967:

A resolution: Whereas we the West Blocton Wesleyan Methodist Church, a corporation, that has duly voted not to be a part of the merged Wesleyan Methodist and Pilgrim Holiness Church in the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

Be it resolved that we the members of the West Blocton Wesleyan Methodist Church, incorporated, sell and legally convey all property and interest to the West Blocton Bible Methodist Corporation.  Mr. Arthur Finnen made a motion to adopt the resolution.  Mrs. Arthur Finnen 2nd the motion.  The motion carried without a dissenting vote.

With this the church changed names but continued the traditions of worship and joined the Alabama Bible Methodist Connection of Church, where they have continued as a member since that time.

Later significant church events included the purchase of a home adjacent to the church property for use as a parsonage, paving and improvement of the parking lot, the complete remodeling of the church interior, and the most latest addition of the church fellowship hall.  Today the Bible Methodist Church of West Blocton is an active, caring congregation, looking toward the future for continued ministry to the town and church members.

Member's Name Date Received as Member Received By:
Mrs. Maggie Finnen December 24, 1933 G. C. Fredrick
James Arthur Finnen June 21, 1936 G. C. Fredrick
Mrs. Daisy Finnen June 21, 1936  
Mrs. Kathleen Boyd April 12, 1944  
Billy Roy Finnen June 20, 1948  
Bill Pearson June 20, 1948  
James Arthur Finnen Jr April 2, 1950  
G. C. Fredrick November 15, 1953  
Darrell Finnen July 7, 1957  
Linda H. Finnen September 19, 1971 V. O. Agan
William Roy Finnen Jr March 5, 1978 Fred Brazier
Brian Finnen March 5, 1978 Fred Brazier
James Arthur Finnen 3rd March 5, 1978 Fred Brazier
Jefferson Kent Finnen March 5, 1978 Fred Brazier
Debbie Finnen ? ?
Richard Hooker October 29, 1978 V. O. Agan
Mrs. Sarah Hooker October 29, 1978 V. O. Agan
Rev. Aubrey Elam January 18, 1981 V. O. Agan
Mrs. Sue Elam January 18, 1981 V. O. Agan
Sherrill Goggins March 22, 1981 Aubrey Elam
Rebecca Lynn Finnen March 22,1981 - Junior Member Aubrey Elam
Amy Christian Finnen March 22,1981 - Junior Member Aubrey Elam
Brook Finnen March 22,1981 - Junior Member Aubrey Elam
Johnny Hubbard January 17, 1982 Aubrey Elam
Gloria Jean Prather January 30, 1982 Aubrey Elam
Carl Carroll April 18, 1982 Aubrey Elam
Mrs. Bessie Marlett November 28, 1982 Aubrey Elam
Mrs. Bertha Hobson July 24, 1983 Aubrey Elam
Mike Dunkling December 25, 1983 Aubrey Elam
Jody Holden December 25, 1983 Aubrey Elam
Mrs. Ethel Allen March 22, 2001 V. O. Agan

Short History of the Bible Methodist Church of West Blocton.

 

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