The Alabama Baptist newspaper to celebrate 175th anniversary and Marion origins | Judson College
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The Alabama Baptist newspaper to celebrate 175th anniversary and Marion origins

On February 6, The Alabama Baptist newspaper will mark its 175th anniversary with a celebration in Marion, the paper’s birthplace. Events will include historic tours of Marion sites important to Alabama Baptist history, a Judson College Chapel service, historical and commemorative presentations, and, fittingly, a birthday celebration.

Founded in 1843 by leaders of Siloam Baptist Church, The Alabama Baptist publicized the work of the church until 1919, when the newspaper was purchased by the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Since then, The Alabama Baptist has been chronicling the news and work of Alabama Baptists across the state. It is now published in Birmingham, still an entity of the ABSC.

Siloam Baptist Church figures prominently in the history of The Alabama Baptist and in the history of Baptists in Marion, the state, and the nation.  Established in 1822, the congregation of Siloam became one of Alabama’s most influential Baptist congregations in the mid-19th century and was one of the strongest denominational centers in the South. Members were leaders in the organization of the Alabama Baptist State Convention in 1823, and the Alabama Resolutions passed at Siloam in 1844 had significant influence on the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention at Augusta, GA in 1845. Members of Siloam Baptist were instrumental in founding Judson College in 1838 and Howard College (now Samford University) in 1841. The Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (now the North American Mission Board) was founded at Siloam in 1845 and headquartered there until 1882.

In commemoration of the important contributions the Marion community made to the founding and sustaining of The Alabama Baptist, tours of the 1848-49 Siloam Baptist Church building will be offered, as well as of the Chapel Howard College students used until 1887 (now the Marion Military Institute Chapel). To give guests a glimpse of the lifestyles of some Marionites in the mid-19th Century, the nearby Greek Revival mansion “Reverie” will be open for tours. Built in 1851, the house has been beautifully restored and decorated with period furnishings. The building where the first issue of The Alabama Baptist was printed will also be open for guests to visit. Built as an office building in the early 1830s, the building was used for printing and distribution of The Alabama Baptist from 1843-1852. It was moved to the Judson College campus and restored in 1997.

After the morning’s tour schedule, participants are invited to attend Judson’s 11:05am Chapel service in Ramsay-McCrummen Chapel in Jewett Hall. Jennifer D. Rash, Editor-elect of The Alabama Baptist, will be the featured speaker.

Afternoon historical presentations will be given by Elizabeth Wells and Grace Thornton, authors of a new book The Alabama Baptist: 175 Years of Informing, Inspiring, and Connecting (2018). Wells, Judson alumna, author, retired Samford Univeristy archivist, and lead researcher for the book, will speak on Marion’s vital role in beginning and supporting The Alabama Baptist.

Thornton, journalist, blogger, and lead writer for the book, will highlight the contributions of the four editors of The Alabama Baptist since it has been an entity of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

The day’s events will conclude around 3:00 p.m. after a prayer emphasis, a presentation by the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission, and a birthday celebration.

The cost of advance registration for the event is $15, which covers tours, lunch, the birthday celebration, and a $5 discount on the new Wells/Thornton book, which will be sold at the event. Registration the day of the event will be $20. Tours will begin at 9:00 a.m. Feb. 6.

For more information or to register for the event, contact Linda Harrison at lharrison@thealabamabaptist.org or call 1(800) 803-5201.