Bro. Charles Trantham, Pastor
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Morning Worship Service *11:00 AM
Sunday Evening Service *6:30 PM
Wednesday Evening Bible Study *6:30 PM
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History of Alton Freewill Baptist Church - Alton MO
The Alton Freewill Baptist Church was organized September 16, 1955, following a tent revival, conducted by Rev. C. A. Dodson, Rev. Harry Beatty, Rev. Billy Rogers and Rev. Davie Combs. The following ordaining council of ministers and deacons met under the tent and organized the Alton Freewill Baptist Church: Rev.'s C. A. Dodson, Harry Beatty, Davie Combs, H. C. Crase, Billy Rogers, Keith Johnson, Ernest Harding, Meril Shaw. Deacons: Lee Clark, W. B. Combs, Luke Boze, Andrew Moore, Lee Lynch, Roy Martin, Wallace Strain, Raymond Williams, Mack Warren and Dale Archer. There were 43 charter members. By choice of the body, Bros. Clifton Wright, Elgin Williams and Jim Harding were selected as deacons; Ernest James, clerk; and Rev. C. A. Dodson as Pastor.
A need for a place to worship was the first problem but this was resolved when a local funeral director, Mr. J. Q. Clary, opened the doors of his chapel to the church one hour every Sunday morning. During this hour the congregation hurriedly went through the Sunday School lesson and the pastor delivered a short sermon. The first service was held there October 1, 1955.
The church began searching for a place to build and immediately the Lord provided a place through a dear lady, Sister Eliza Bell who donated a large lot to the church. The lot was located near the northwest edge of the city limits of Alton. On the following Sunday, after the one hour service, a small band of anxious people went to the building site, had prayer and elected a building committee consisting of Bros. Dan Cline, George Chronister, Elgin Williams, David Combs, and Ernest James. Under the supervision of this committee the building was soon started.
A donation of $500.00 from the Missouri Home Missions Department, and local donations of materials and freewill offerings, all totaling $2,939.54 certainly gave the church a wonderful start. There were also many hours of labor donated. The church then borrowed enough money from the Alton Bank to complete the building. This loan was repaid by monthly payments.
Although the building was not complete, on February 19, 1956, the church enjoyed her first service in the new building. As recorded in previous church history notes and is still the testimony of members who were present at the service: "Our hearts did rejoice in praise to God for this wonderful privilege."
Bro. Dodson, the first pastor, and the congregation worked diligently together. The church grew, the debt was repaid and the church was dedicated to the Lord, September 22, 1957. Bro. Harry Beatty preached the dedicatory message.
The heating system used by the church during the first two winters was very inadequate. The church again borrowed money and installed a gas heating system in 1958.
During the growth of the church, there were many wonderful mountain top experiences. Those good times were necessary to help sustain her members during challenges faced in valleys. Such a challenge came on October 1, 1961. Due to his failing health, Bro. Dodson offered his resignation to the church. The church accepted the resignation on October 8 and called Bro. Millard Ehrhardt as pastor. Bro. Ehrhardt and his wife, Cecile, took up the work of the church in a wonderful way.
The church continued to grow and soon there was an urgent need for Sunday School classroom space. The deacons and the pastor discussed the need and then brought the matter before the entire congregation. The church decided to build the classrooms and began the project under the supervision of an elected building committee consisting of Bros. David Combs, Elgin Williams and Ernest James.
Again there was a wonderful response of contributions in the form of money, labor, and materials. As a result of this help combined with consecrated prayer and untiring efforts of all who were so deeply interested, the four classrooms were completed and used for the first time in August of 1962. The church gave thanks to the Lord for another blessing. On February 3, 1968, the addition was dedicated to the Lord's service. Again Bro. Harry Beatty brought the dedicatory sermon.
Those who have served the church as deacons in the past include: Bros. Jim Harding, Doyle Hickenbotham, Elgin Williams, Clifton Wright, Larry Wallace, John Barton, Paris Wheeler, Wallace Strain, Leroy Chronister, Dwight Chronister and Kenneth Stogsdill. Bros. Wallace, Williams, Wright, Wheeler and Strain have gone on to be with the Lord.
Those deacons actively involved in the church at this time (2013) are Mike Crawford and Al Payne. These men, both present and past, who have given of themselves to serve the Lord and the church are held in high esteem and will be remembered with honor for their service. Also Jane Reese is the present Church Treasurer and Mary Marcum serves as the Church Clerk.
Bro. Ehrhardt who had served as pastor since 1961 resigned in June, 1965. The Lord continued to bless with souls being saved and good fellowship. Bro. Glen Murray was chosen as pastor. Attendance continued to grow. The church experienced record attendance in 1966. Following Bro. Murray's resignation, Bro. Cleo Covington was called as pastor and continued until 1969, except for a period of time from February 1968 until later that fall, when Bro. Gene McCully pastored the church.
Bro. Grover Pingleton was called to the church in May, 1969 and served as pastor through July, 1970. In August, 1970, our prior pastor, Bro. Millard Ehrhardt, returned to provide leadership for the church until December, 1971. At that time, Bro. Donavan Maxwell was elected pastor and continued through June, 1974. Bro. Darrell Strain began his pastorate in 1976. His work at the church lasted through March, 1978. Beginning in March of this year, various ministers were called on to assist the church. Bro. Joe Garrison served the church as interim pastor until October. It was during this time, under the direction of the deacon board, that the church completed the outside structure of a fellowship hall which was anticipated to be needed in the future. New church furniture, a new carpet, and a piano had already been added.
In October, 1978, Bro. Garland Barton was elected to serve as pastor of the church. After Bro. Garland Barton left the church in 1991, Bro. Mike Parrott began his ministry with the church in June of 1991. Bro. Mike resigned in March of 1992 and Bro. Terry Deckard was called to be the pastor. Bro. Terry resigned in July, 1993. Bro. Bill Bales served as pastor in 1993 until June 1994.
Bro. Garland was once again called to pastor the church and was there in 1994 through 1997. He served the church for so many years, longer than anyone.
Bro. James Thompson began his pastorate work at the church in 1997. He resigned in Dec. 1998.
Bro. Bill Bales came back in 1999 as the pastor and served through 2001.
The church called Bro. Charles Trantham in Jan. 2002. He is continuing to serve as the church pastor in this year of 2013 with an added ministry of his Sunday sermon broadcast on the internet at http://www.altonfwb.org/. Children's Church Services also has been a growing attraction with enthusiastic attendance, under the guidance and supervision of Sis. Carolyn Trantham and Sis. Leslie Weyland.
There have been many added to the church as we write this history chapter of the Alton Freewill Baptist Church. Attendance has grown. There is work being done in the Mission field and in our Vacation Bible School, with the number of youth growing. Many young people have been baptized and joined the church.
Through the years, the church has continued to improve and expand the facilities. A fellowship hall has been completed including kitchen facilities. An addition to the front of the building provides a foyer, classroom space, additional restrooms and an office for the pastor. A sound system has been added, the parking lot has been asphalted, and the entire church has been bricked. Recently interior improvements have been added to the church including new carpet, new flags, new song books, a TASCAM Professional CD Recorder/Cassette Deck enabling CD recordings of the pastor's sermon, a ProStar wireless lapel mike for the pastor which enhances sound quality of his sermon being broadcast (on internet) and stained glass windows which now adorn the sanctuary. In 2008, property joining on the east of the church became available. The church voted to buy this lot. It was bought and paid for in June of 2008. Also in 2009, the church added new wrought iron railing to the front and east entrances of the church. The church has recently replaced the ceiling; installed new lighting and sound system and painted the walls.
The prayer of this church, as we continue on is that the doors would remain open; where the Lord can be worshipped in spirit and in truth, with an invitation extended to all to come and worship with us . It is our prayer also that many will be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We give God the glory!
"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid." Matthew 5:14.