South Avondale Baptist Church

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1948 rendering of the education building at South Avondale Baptist Church

South Avondale Baptist Church (originally First Baptist Church of Avondale, later Avondale Baptist Church) was a Baptist church located at 4022 4th Avenue South in Forest Park-South Avondale.

The church was chartered on February 20, 1887 as a mission of Southside Baptist Church to the Avondale Mill Village and new City of Avondale. Twenty-three charter members met in a vacant shop before completing construction of the first framed church building at 4010 4th Avenue South in 1890. The church adopted the name "Avondale Baptist Church" in 1912.

In 1914 the membership elected to demolish the 24-year-old church building and erect a new one in its place. They secured a mortgage from the Jackson Security Company and commissioned a design for a large brick building with an octagonal dome from architect James E. Green. During construction the congregation shrank, but the dedicatory service in 1916 drew 1,000 congregants.

In 1924 the church changed its name again to South Avondale Baptist Church. M. P. Möller Inc.'s "Opus 5966" church organ was installed in 1931. The instrument was rebuilt in 1985 and dedicated as the "Bentley-Green Organ" in honor of Mrs W. C. Bentley and Dr R. C. Green.

During the Great Depression the church was able to acquire several lots adjoining the church. By 1940 South Avondale Baptist had a membership of more than 1,500 people. In 1948, at the start of James Davidson's long pastorate, the church began construction of a two-story education building. The new wing was designed by architect Charles McCauley with dark red brick cladding to match the sanctuary. Day & Richardson were the contractors for the $100,000 project. A second education building was added later.

Davidson preached a sermon entitled, "Why Baptists and Protestants Fear a Catholic President," during the 1960 presidential election. In the same decade South Avondale's board of deacons issued a letter saying that they would not seat African Americans attempting to attend services at the church. During the decades of white flight from Birmingham, South Avondale Baptist saw its Sunday School enrollment drop quickly while attendance at services fell to around 65 by 1998.

South Avondale Baptist Church closed in 2000 and turned over the deed to its property to the Birmingham Baptist Association. New Hope Baptist Church began using it as a second campus in 2001, and the BBA turned the deed over to pastor Gregory Clarke in 2001. Clarke fell into legal trouble, and New Hope later stopped holding services at the Avondale campus, even as it continued to provide day care services there. Redeemer Community Church began using the sanctuary building in 2014, and purchased the property from the Association, which had reclaimed the deed, in 2015. M-Power Ministries is also housed on the campus.

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