By staff reports
The building that houses the first Christian church on Main Street, better known to locals as ‘the church with the red doors’, is nearing its 100and birthday. Church members will celebrate the occasion with an open house on May 15 from 2-4 p.m. A religious service will be held that morning at 10 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.
According to church literature, the church had its beginnings in the 1870s when a Sunday school movement that challenged people to know the source of their faith swept across America. This caused Sunday School groups in 1872-1873 to begin meeting in private homes in Hartselle. The first Christian church was created by members of these groups and evangelists of the time.
The church was officially organized in 1881 following a series of revival services led by the Reverend CK Marshall. At this time, church members met in a half-timbered building on North Milner Street on land donated by AA Oden. The world famous religious hymn, Leaning on eternal arms, was written in Hartselle in 1887 by Professor AJ Showalter, who at the time ran a singing school in the church building.
The current building on East Main Street, under construction from 1914 to 1921, is made of native sandstone donated to the church by Robert Sobottka. The stones were quarried from a quarry near Tanner Heights and brought to the site by horse and wagon. Each stone was cut, shaped and placed by stonemason Ernest Jackson. The current building was inaugurated and dedicated on May 14, 1922.
Longtime church member Luanne Stephenson grew up at First Christian and said she was proud to be part of the church family.
“Our family has deep roots in the church, and my grandparents were there when the plans were made for the current building,” Stephenson said. “I I am so inspired by the vision the members had and their dedication to see it come to an end after seven years. When you think of the stones brought in by wagon, and each one cut and laid by a stonemason, it is a testimony of their labor of love for the Lord.
Mitzi Pouncey started attending First Christian church in 1953 when his family moved to Hartselle from Cullman.
“I think when you’re young you go to church to hang out with friends and enjoy activities. As you grow older and begin to experience difficulties and tragedies in your life, you realize that your church is your anchor and support system,” Pouncey said. “I think our church is a beautiful building and every time I am in the building I think of all the congregants who have worked so hard over the many years to not only maintain the building but also to allow the family of the church to continue. . I remember learning from Miss Ethel Patillo, Miss Lizzie Reed Penn and Mrs. Claudine Sample, my Sunday School teachers for many years. I know our building is not” church”, but you can’t help but feel reverence and peace as you sit in this sanctuary and gaze at the stained glass windows, old pews and beautiful wooden ceiling.
Members of First Christian invite the community to the open house event on May 15 to celebrate 100 years of worship at the Red Door Church.