Pilgrim Lutheran Church

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Pilgrim Lutheran Church was a Lutheran congregation that began as a mission to African Americans in 1923. In 1930 it erected a permanent brick church at 447 1st Street North, the corner of 1st Street and 4th Terrance North in Smithfield.

The mission was founded by the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America. The Synodical Conference was an association of Lutheran synods that professed a complete adherence to the Lutheran confessions that was organized in 1872 and disbanded in 1967. The Synodical Conference conducted missionary work among African Americans in Alabama and elsewhere. In the 1960s as the Synodical Conference was breaking up, its Alabama congregations were absorbed by the Southern District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

The conference established its first mission station in Birmingham in 1920 staffed by Pastor Marmaduke Nathaniel Carter. Carter led services every third Sunday in the afternoon in a building on Morris Avenue in Woodlawn. This mission station was closed in 1921.

In 1923 the mission began again led by Isaac Holness. By 1924 it was holding services in a building at the corner of 11th Street South and 4th Avenue South. Holness was formally ordained and installed as pastor in March 1924. For a few years the congregation's place of worship changed regularly included rented churches, private homes, and a store room. This wandering may explain why the name "Pilgrim" was chosen for the congregation.

In the summer of 1925, Holness left to join the faculty of the Alabama Lutheran Academy and College at Selma (later known as Concordia College Alabama). He was replaced by Pastor William Thomas Eddleman who spent his entire ministerial career at the church. In 1926 services were being held in a store annex at 819 15th Street South. By 1929, the congregation included 60 communicants.

The cornerstone ceremony for the new church was held on July 6, 1930.