Edgar Arendall

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Edgar M. Arendall in the 1960s

Edgar M. Arendall (born June 26, 1920 in Richmond, Virginia - died October 20, 2009 in Birmingham) was pastor of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church from 1948 to 1984, shepherding it from a membership of just under 700 to over 6,200.

Arendall was the son of Reverend Charles B. and Kate Peacock Arendall of Virginia. Charles Arendall came to Alabama in 1924 to lead Mobile's Dauphin Way Baptist Church. Edgar returned to Virginia and completed his undergraduate degree in English at the University of Richmond, then went on to earn a master's degree in theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He married Sara Goode of Richmond in 1942 and brought her back to Alabama when he accepted the call to pastor the First Baptist Church of Atmore in 1944. After three years there he was invited to come to Dawson. He preached his first sermon on February 1, 1948.

During his first decade, Arendall oversaw steady growth of Dawson's membership and the construction of a new 1,150 seat sanctuary (which was expanded several times) as well as a larger education wing. Beginning in 1952 Arendall filmed sermons and responded to prayer requests at the studios of WBRC-TV for a weekly television broadcast. In 1970 Dawson began broadcasting its worship services on WBMG-TV. Arendall's media experience led to an appointment to the Southern Baptist Convention's Radio and TV Commission in 1955. He also served on the Home Mission Board and the Stewardship Commission. As the church continued to grow, Dawson added new educational and recreational buildings and expanded its parking areas through the 1960s.

The church's practice of buying up houses to demolish for additional parking led to tensions with the city. Following a lawsuit against the zoning board, Arendall became personally involved in a controversy in 1980 when he sent a letter to friends and acquaintances expressing concern about "anti-church sentiments" held by some of the candidates for Homewood City Council.

Arendall announced his retirement in January 1984, effective June 3 of that year. He went on to serve as an interim pastor at several churches, eventually becoming an active member at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church.

Arendall died following a short illness in 2009. He was survived by his wife, Sara; three children, Doug, David and Sara; 10 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.


  • Atchison, Roy and Doris Teague Atchison (1999) Light in the Valley: History of Dawson Memorial Baptist Church. Dawson Memorial Baptist Church/EBSCO Printing
  • Gray, Jeremy (October 20, 2009) "Longtime Dawson Memorial pastor Edgar Arendall dead at 89." Birmingham News