Building for the Future…

To the Glory of God

This is the brochure for the Challenge to Build compaign. This web page version is somewhat redacted.

You can download the complete file (minus the cover) in MS Publisher 2002 format by right-clicking your mouse and selecting SAVE TARGET AS. 2.91 MB

A Letter from the Pastor


Dear First Family,

There are seasons in the life of a living church.  There are seasons of growth and rapid advance.  There are also less dramatic seasons for solidifying progress.  Like the farmer who has to get all of his family into the fields in order to bring in a harvest, there are times when everyone has to do their part to help.  This is that kind of season, busy and determinative.  We have the privilege of being here “for such a time as this!”  Most people have to settle for coasting through a legacy left by someone else—we get to be the generation of vision. 


This first-phase building will be a tool to help us better fulfill our mission.  It will immediately help us be more effective in reaching people and teaching God’s Word.  But we are also building for the future.  We are building for the present, but it is also like planting trees whose shade others will enjoy.   You are planting for your children and your grandchildren and God’s children yet to be born.  It is a noble and unselfish thing to do.


Each sacrificial gift will matter.  How much First Baptist Church will be able to do and how soon we will be able to do it – in service, in outreach, and in growth – will be determined by what each one of us does in this campaign.  What we all do together is really the sum of what each of us does individually.  You are not being asked for equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.


God has led us in this process.  He has been at work around us.  He is inviting us to join Him in what He is doing.  When God issues such an invitation, we often come to a crisis of belief and obedience.  Sacrificial giving will stretch us and grow our faith.  To be sure, when God invites us to join Him, we have to make adjustments in our lives to do so.  When the children of Israel went to Canaan, it was very inconvenient; they, too, had to relocate.  Yet the land that flowed with milk and honey was entirely worth the effort. 


The church has discussed this issue thoroughly, decided this matter with finality, and determined our direction for the future.   The course is set; it is now time for everyone to get on board.


We at First Baptist are ready for this challenge and we are anxious for the blessings that will follow.  Let’s all enter into this great effort prayerfully and enthusiastically.


Yours for the Future,

Derek Gentle

Derek Gentle, pastor


The First Baptist Church of Tallassee
Our Heritage: Making Room for More


A Missionary Heart

While there was a church, in the early 1800’s, on the east side of the river in the village of “Tallasse,” we don’t know much about it, except that the famous Indian preacher, Joseph Island, was a member.  The first Baptist work in the Tallassee area, about which we have significant information, was a missionary one.  Lee and Susannah Compere came by ox cart, as missionaries to the Creek Indians in the Eufaula area.   They received limited support from their native South Carolina.  From Eufaula, they started a mission school in the Tallassee area.  They were allowed, by Chief Menawa, to teach the children in school, but there was to be “no preaching to the adults.”  The Comperes faced regular opposition from the men.  Drinking often resulted in incidents that made it difficult to carry on the work.  Finally, in 1828, the Comperes were forced to close the school.  They went to Montgomery and Lee helped establish Rehoboth Baptist Church, serving for two years as pastor of what is now known as the First Baptist Church of Montgomery.  The Comperes left for Oklahoma to minister to the Indians.  There were other pioneer preachers in those days who ministered in the Tallassee area, most of them just passing through, but like the Comperes, they all had a missionary heart.


Ready Devotion and Early Vision

In 1843, a cotton mill was built in Tallassee, as the river made it an ideal location.  A village was constructed nearby for the workers.  Two pastors from what is now known as Kent would preach in the Community House on Sunday afternoons.  The community grew as did interest in establishing a Baptist church.  So, on Sunday, August 2, 1852 - 150 years ago this summer – the Baptist Church of Christ in Tallassee was chartered.    The church was formed less than 10 years after the formation of the mill village, indicating the ready devotion and early vision of the 23 charter members. 


Everyone Did Their Part

Thomas M. Barrett, owner of the mill, donated some land and $500 to construct the church’s first building.  The one-room structure was erected in 1858 on what is now the corner of James and Dubois.   As soon as it was shelled in, it began to be used for worship, months before its completion.  Some members built benches. One member donated a pulpit Bible; another donated furniture.  Everyone did their part.


New Works to Reach New People

More than one church in the Tallassee area has its beginning with help from mission-minded members of the First Baptist Church.  The first was in 1897.  When First Baptist was divided over calling two different men as pastor, the deacon resolved the problem by starting a mission in East Tallassee, asking the pastor who did not receive the call to First Baptist to take the leadership of the new work.  The new work had already been a topic of discussion.  The minutes of the church read, “the church voted to extend an arm on the East Side of the River, make arrangement for preaching, and a new building.”  While human motives sometimes come into to play and can make things a little complicated, God has a way of getting His work done.


The Elmore Baptist Association began a new work at Tubby’s Place Café in the Tallaweka vicinity.  The Tallaweka Baptist Church was organized in September 1951.  There was an emphasis at that time on having a church “within walking distance of every Baptist.”  While this work was neither a mission nor a split-off of First Baptist, over 100 of our members saw the need for a new work and joined in.  When a split came to that church, First Baptist came to their aid by assuming responsibility for $6000 in their church bonds.


In 1953, First Baptist began mission work in the Riverside Heights area.  26 families left First Baptist Church to join in this new work.


Starting these new works prevented the membership of First Baptist Church from reaching the size of many First Baptist Churches in towns our size.  However, for the time, with the culture and transportation of the day, it was the right thing to do and a visionary one.   New works were created to reach new people.


A Step of Faith

The original church house was used for 60 years.  In March 1919, they held the last service in the building.  To make room for the new structure, they tore down the old one, removing the last plank on April 17.  The new sanctuary was built on the “Ackron plan” and the architect was Charles W. Carlton, of Tennessee.   During the period of demolition and construction, the church met in the school auditorium.  It was a challenging venture – “large sums” had to be borrowed.  18 men of the church signed notes at the bank.  The church did not dedicate the building until the indebtedness had been paid off in 1924, but the first service was held in it on June 6, 1920—thanks to some men who were willing to take a step of faith.


Make Room For More

The Baraca Class was for decades the only men’s class.  In 1930, when they could not get all of their 125 men into the dome room, it was decided to build a room behind the main church building.  The class provided all the labor, the mill donated windows, and the lumber was paid for out of weekly class offerings.  Construction was completed in three days.   It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but it provided space.  The Baraca room was used until 1953 and the completion of the education building.  At that time, the class moved into the chapel.  Today, in the spirit of the Baraca Class, there are classes meeting in the Preschool Building, “Rutland House” and the “Youth House” across the street.  First Baptist has a heritage of finding space wherever we can find it – to make room for more.


The Last New Growth Space

By the early fifties, the lack of educational space had been a problem for years.  So plans were made.  The church used the architecture department of the Sunday School Board (now known as LifeWay Christian Resources).  This is the same office used by the church for the present master site plan for relocation.  About three-fourths of the money was raised by donations to the building fund and the remaining amount was secured by the sale of church bonds. The groundbreaking for the new educational annex was held on the centennial homecoming, 1952.  Construction was completed and the building was dedicated in 1953.   While the education building is the last new growth space constructed by the church, after the new pastorium was built in 1962, the old pastorium was converted to what is now known as the Preschool Building in 1964.


First Baptist is a Growing Church Today

Sunday School attendance at First Baptist Church has grown by 71% over the last seven years, as represented below. 

Do you realize you have averaged 8% annual growth in the past 7 years? In the past three years you have averaged an 11% increase in Sunday School growth.  That is Great!  It is exciting to see a church in the Tallassee area do that.  With 70% of Southern Baptist churches either in plateau or declining, you are to be commended.  Keep up the good work!

                         — Jamie Baldwin, Sunday School Department, State Board of Missions


The Subject Kept Coming Up

Discussing the matter in the early 1960’s, Rob Cottle, Stancle Ingram, and Bureon Ledbetter, Sr. agreed that, eventually, the church would need to relocate.   Before his death, Rob Cottle created a fund with the Baptist Foundation of Alabama for the purpose of “relocation and/or building plans” of First Baptist Church (legal document, 1981).   The Long Range Planning Committees of 1975, 1987, and 1993 each discussed this possibility.  “Most churches say 'no' to the idea of relocation the first few times it is suggested because it is such a radical change, but  ‘If the most plausible option is to relocate, the subject will continue to come up’” (Church Relocation May Be 'Only Option,' Architect Says, Baptist Press, November 3, 1998).  Growth made the decision to relocate inevitable.  Thus, on August 26, 2001, the church voted overwhelmingly to relocate.


Meeting the Needs of a Changing Tallassee

In 1990, in his final sermon as pastor, David Bentley said, “I am the last pastor who will have ministered in both the old and new Tallassee.  I came when the Mill was everything and ministered until it was just something.  I came when the only town was downtown… when most of the members lived near the Church and ministered until most of them lived at least a mile away.”   The new Tallassee is the one to whom we are placed here to minister.  Doing so will require the kind of pioneering vision that was in our founding fathers.  It will demand the risk-taking faith the church demonstrated in the 1920’s.  It will call for the space-finding resourcefulness of the 1930’s – so that we, too, can make room for more.  It will take the “new work spirit” of the 1950’s, that desires to be part of something new for God.  It will take the adaptability of the Bentley years.  It will be the fulfillment of the vision of the Rob Cottles and Stancle Ingrams and Bueron Ledbetters – and others like them.  The present plans for relocation are consistent with our heritage.  It is a continuation of the unfolding story of the Lord’s work through His church in Tallassee.

The future of the First Baptist Church of Tallassee, as in the past, will be built upon the strength of the membership’s faith in the living God who provides leadership, support, and wisdom to His body, the church.  – Jim Jackson


The words of John Bisagno, addressed to the First Baptist Church of Houston, apply equally well to us…

I believe the responsibility of the “First Church” of any denomination is extremely important as it gives leadership and inspiration in its own community… We have come a long way, but if we think we have won our last soul, dreamed our last dream, given our last dollar, prayed our last prayer, and made our last sacrifice, then we need to think again.  We give God the glory for our success and his blessing upon us, but I want to underscore that we still have a very long way to go.  We must press the battle to the gates of hell and never, never let up until Jesus Christ comes from glory.


We Need to Build!


Our Present Facilities Do Not Meet Our Needs For Growth and Quality

·         There are not enough classrooms; so we have to use houses for additional space.  Adults and youth are having to cross the street in the weather to and from Sunday School

·         The second floor layout is outdated and the rooms are too small.

·         Only some of the building is handicapped accessible; none of it is handicapped friendly.  There is no elevator to the second floor.

·         One cannot get to the restrooms from the worship center without going up the steps of the platform right by the preacher – or by going outside!

·         The stairs are very steep, especially the back stairs.

·         The fellowship hall is rated for a maximum capacity of only 92 to 140 people (at the July 1, 2001 fish fry, there were 147 people present; there were about 140 people packed into the hall and around 7 outside or in the kitchen).

·         There is not a good place for a welcome center


I have an enrollment of 18 children.  If you remove the table and chairs and sit on the floor, there is elbowroom for 12 and no more.  If we are going to put our children in a chair, make them sit there for an hour, and lecture to them, we can’t even do that with the limited space we have.  Our lessons are meaningful, reverent, well written, and well thought-out.  But, at present, we cannot take full advantage of what is offered because of the limitations of our physical configuration.  Our children deserve much, much more than what is available for them at the present time.     – Connie Davis


“…I do not believe the building is fixable… My conclusion is based on the fact that the space is not designed for flexible use, not expandable, will require undue modifications, (disproportionate cost for space gain) to bring it up to code for long term use, and is ultimately a poor stewardship choice for the dollars required to do what needs to be done.”     – Glenn Akins


Lack of Space Impairs Our Growth Potential

Space will not make your church grow.  However, it can limit your growth.  It seems that your church fits the pattern where a church grows to a certain point and then hits a “glass ceiling”.  That process can be very frustrating to a church.  Some churches hit this glass ceiling and start looking for the cause of the problem and accusing each other.  That causes the church to decline. Thus, the glass ceiling problem solves itself. . . and the church doesn’t understand what the problem is.  I think it is very possible that the lack of space is limiting your growth.  

—Gary Nicholson, Sunday School Board Architect, 1997


Why We’re Excited about the Building Program


We are so excited about a user friendly, handicapped accessible, energy efficient, and worshipful church building located on adequate property for educational and related facilities that fit our present and future needs for continued growth for the glory of God.

— Judy and Sonny Hornsby


I count it an honor to be part of First Baptist Church and be involved in this historic event.  God has called His people to do a great task and you have answered.  When I was talking with the search committee, and considering coming to First Baptist, the fact that the church had voted to relocate confirmed my sense of call.  I had always wanted to be part of something like this.  It is exciting to be involved in such a great step of faith.   

                                                – Ron Turner, Minister of Music & Adult Education


I teach one-year olds and our room is closet-size for the age group.   In fact, two classes have this problem.  I’m embarrassed when visitors bring their children to the room!  I’m looking forward to having rooms designed to be preschool rooms instead of a house. 

                                                — Christina Baker, Teacher and mother of preschoolers


Our class is so crowded every week that no one has room to cross their legs and I have to stand to teach.  Sometimes, people use the side door to the fellowship hall to get to and from the preschool building and this can be an interruption.  I’m looking forward to having enough room; we’re expecting growth!                   — Donna Ledbetter, Teacher, Dorcas Class


This is a very exciting time in the life of First Baptist Church. Having worked the sound for more than 20 years, I look forward to the new sanctuary and the possibilities that exist to praise His name in song and message.                                        – Mike Hornsby


I’ll be glad... so we can keep reaching people in Tallassee.                — Kristen Nelson


It is great to be part of a growing church, especially First Baptist, Tallassee.  I look forward to adequate and quality space for worship and education under one roof.  I am excited for our youth, for the ministries we will be able to afford to them in the not too distant future, as well as for future generations.  — Charles Garnett, Chairman, CTB Steering Committee




See Master Site Plan

How Does the Challenge to Build Campaign Work?


Giving Over a Three-Year Period

The Challenge to Build campaign will ultimately ask every member to commit to giving an “over and above the tithe” offering to the building fund over a three-year period.   Weekly giving is emphasized since that multiplies what we can give.  Most people cannot afford to give a very large lump sum all at once, but over 156 weeks the total amount can really add up!  Most of us are paid weekly.  We attend church weekly.  So it makes sense.  Some may need to give monthly.  Some may wish to give a large amount up-front and then give weekly.  That is fine.  The idea is not to limit your options, but to multiply our giving.  However, remember that you can give more by giving something weekly


Prayer Visitation

Challenge to Build includes two visits in the homes of our members.  First, there is a Prayer Visitation.  This visit will be for the purpose of asking our members to pray daily for the direction and future of the church.  This visit will not be about money.  Money will not even be mentioned.  Challenge to Build is designed to provide an opportunity for spiritual growth, as well as being a capital fund drive.


Commitment Visitation

The second visit in the home will be the Commitment Visitation.  In this visit, the visitors will deliver a commitment card to each church family. You will be given time to mark the amount you feel impressed by the Lord to give and place the card in a privacy envelope.  You don’t have to tell the visitor how much you are pledging, but they will take the card back to the church office.  Remember, with the exception of the financial secretary who will record your contributions for tax purposes and those who total the amounts pledged, no one will know how much you give unless you tell it.


Challenge to Build Banquet

There will be a banquet for all adults and youth on Sunday, August 11 at 6:00 pm.  It will be held at the Tallassee Elementary School Cafeteria (the only air conditioned facility in town that is large enough to hold our membership).  Adult size tables and chairs will be brought in for the event.  Childcare and a children’s party (through sixth grade) will be provided at the church.  There will be no charge, no offering, and no pledging at the banquet.  It will be informational and inspirational.  Please mark this day on your calendar!


Other Parts of Challenge to Build Include:

Four special Sundays with special sermons by the pastor and testimonies from members, and three special Sunday School lessons.  It does not include any high pressure methods.  Victory Day is Sunday, August 25 (Gifts start on this day). 



How to Determine the Amount of Your Commitment


Give in response to God’s definite leadership

You are being challenged to give, not merely by reason, but also by revelation.  Have an open mind to God and ask Him to speak to you.  He knows the future.  He knows how much you can afford to give and how much He can trust you with.   He will lead you specifically.  It is not likely that God will speak to you audibly; it will probably be “louder” than that.  His leadership will come in the form of an impression in your spirit… a deep settled sense of a definite amount.  That thought will keep recurring.  To hear the voice of God, you will want to cleanse your mind and motives.  Spend time each day in prayer, asking God to show what He wants you to pledge.  You will want to tune your heart to hear… and listen –  “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”


Discuss, as a family, what you will give

Each couple should discuss what they believe the Lord has told them, as a family, to give.  If you find that you two have been thinking about differing amounts, the rule of thumb is that the larger amount is the correct one.   It is possible that you need to stretch out a bit, trust the Lord, and pledge the larger amount.


Give out of God’s resources

Perhaps you have a predetermined amount that you have already decided to pledge.  You may have arrived at that number on the basis of human calculation.  You started with your monthly income and then you factored in your house payment, your car payment, your tithe, and so forth.  You did the arithmetic and that was all there was to it.  Unfortunately, this approach leaves no room for the miraculous or for God.  And it allows no room for faith.  An atheist can make a mere human calculation like that!  Count on supernatural provision.  You can always afford to give what God leads you to give… because God always supplies what He demands.


Give over and above the tithe

Christian stewardship begins with the tithe.  At First Baptist, we believe in “storehouse tithing,” giving the first ten percent through the general church budget.  Even during a building program, our ministry and budget needs continue as always. 


Give sacrificially

Jesus made a distinction between those who give “out of their surplus” and those who give out of their substance (Mark 12:44, Luke 21:4).  We don’t want to give God our leftovers.  David said, “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2nd Samuel 24:24).  Those of means should set an example.   It is possible to give a large amount that, for you, is still not sacrificial – we want to give an amount appropriate to our income.  Those of lesser means should know that it was not a wealthy person whom Jesus used as an example of stewardship, but a widow who lived in poverty.  That is why we say, “Not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.”


Not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice



The Responsibility of This Generation

It is the responsibility of this generation to pay for this expansion in the shortest period of time possible. One of the benefits of the Challenge to Build campaign is that it accumulates cash… money that will not have to be borrowed later… saving thousands of dollars in interest.  Every $100,000 raised will save in the neighborhood of $8,000 per year in interest payments. Every dollar going into the building fund through Challenge to Build frees funds for ministry.


At Least Once in Their Lifetimes

Every Christian family – at least once in their lifetimes – should have a part in building a church building.  Kingdom-building is more than bricks and lumber, but buildings are an essential tool for the job.  Their construction is a leading indicator of kingdom-building progress.  This may be the first such opportunity of your life.


“A church will never grow to require the space it does not choose to provide.”           — Unknown

“You cannot out-give the Lord”  — R. L. “Rob” Cottle


My Gift Makes a Difference

Sample commitments you can make over a 156-week period




50 Cents



75 Cents












































































The above chart does not represent the only ways in which you can give.  You can give any amount and give in any way in which the Lord leads you.  You can mix weekly (or monthly) giving with one upfront gift or with annual gifts.  These amounts are given as examples.  Notice how, over 156 weeks, the amounts can add up!



[Sample Commitment Card also shown]

Building for the Future… To the Glory of God