Providence Baptist Church
The original deed dated August 20, 1887, describing one acre of land donated by William and E. J. Chancellor, was given for the purpose of establishing a Baptist church in the Cresswell community. The name of the church would be Providence Baptist Church of Christ.
Providence Baptist Church was constituted in 1888 and joined the Coosa River Association in 1889. For ten years Providence remained a member of the Coosa River Association. In 1909, Providence joined the Shelby Association and for almost ninety years has been a part of this association. The first delegates to the association.
The first delegates to the association were Messrs. G. W. Glaze, J. G. Blankenship, W. J. Parker, W. J. Ray, L. L. Bates, L. H. Cosper, and R. A. Kidd (1889-1893).
Providence's first pastor was Reverend J. A. Butt. Reverend Butt served the church for three years from 1889-1891.
The building that would serve the first of many members of Providence Church was a wooden structure with two doors located on the east end of the building. Later a door was added on the north side. Several windows were located on the north and south walls.
The heating, lighting, and cooling systems were quite different than those used in today's structure. The building was heated by a pot belly stove fueled with wood. Its lighting system consisted of kerosene lamps hanging from the ceiling. Cooling was provided by each member in which a hand-held fan was waved back and forth profusely by the arm to provide a cooling effect. These fans were normally provided by local funeral homes and insurance companies.
The pulpit was located in the west end of the sanctuary. In 1909, according to older members, Pastor J. A. Gilbert asked that the pulpit be moved to the rear of the sanctuary in order that late comers could be seen by the congregation without having to turn their heads. The pulpit was later moved to its original position.
The early worshipers were comfortably seated on wooden pews with slatted backs and bottoms. These pews were built by the members. On numerous occasions when the pews were filled, the windows were raised for air circulation, and the over-flow crowd would sit in the window openings.
Providence Baptist Church was located in a beautiful valley bordered on the east and south by the Coosa River. This valley contained many acres of forest and fertile land ideal for timber harvest and farming. Therefore, Providence's church membership consisted mostly of landowners and farmers who inhabited and farmed these fertile river lands. The church in its early years served not only the local families of Cresswell, but families as far away as Harpersville and Arkwright.
In early years, the church services were held monthly, usually on the third Sunday. The people would gather from far and near to worship. They traveled by buggies, horse-drawn wagons, and on for expecting an exciting day of worship. As they gathered in the church to worship, the men would sit on one side and the ladies on the opposite side. The church's amen corner was occupied by the men who were its leaders.
Revival services were held annually. These services normally lasted for one week. There were two services daily, one in the morning and one at night. Sometimes those who attended would not get home until after midnight. Before each service, men and women would meet separately and have prayer, they would pray for a successful revival.
The evangelist preached hell-fire and damnation sermons. There would be fervent praying and inspirational singing. Christians would shout and weep in their praising of God. Many accepted Christ and followed him in baptismal.
The first baptismal services were held in the Coosa River. Those gathered for the service would sing, pray, rejoice, and observe as the candidates were baptized by their pastor. In 1916, the church began to hold its baptismal services at Locust Creek. Today, baptismal services are held in the church baptistery.
The original church building served the community until 1946. Under the leadership of Pastor Marvin Morris, the membership and others of the community built the existing building.
During the tenure of Pastor We W. Vansant the existing structure was bricked and an addition was added that housed the Sunday school rooms, fellowship hall, and bathrooms.
In the past several years the membership of Providence has added a baptistery, drilled two wells, carpeted the auditorium, padded the pews, purchased a sound system, erected a brick sign in front of the church, built a storage room, and constructed a ramp for wheelchairs. During the past two years, three heating and cooling units have been replaced marking this as the work done on Providence Baptist Church as of September 1, 1988.
Pastor William W. Rayfield
September 18, 1988