Southside Baptist Church

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Southside Baptist Church in May 2006
Interior of Southside Baptist Church prior to 1960s renovation.

Southside Baptist Church is a church located at the intersection of 11th Avenue and 19th Street South in Five Points South. Formed in 1886, the church has historically been one of the largest and most influential churches in the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

Originally, the church worshiped in two buildings in Birmingham's Southside. The first building was located on the northwest corner of 21st Street South and Avenue G and the second, designed by W. A. Bird, on the southwest corner of 20th Street South and Avenue F.

After a fire destroyed its second sanctuary in 1906, the church worked with Warren & Welton architects to design a new building. They rejected the architects' proposal: a domed, cruciform design with a 6-story square tower inspired by George M. Keister's picturesque First Baptist Church of the City of New York (1891).

Warren & Welton's unbuilt 1908 design

Later, the deacons commissioned Reuben H. Hunt of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who delivered plans for a Greek Revival temple-style building with a hexastyle Ionic portico. The new sanctuary was completed in 1911. The church built an education building in the 1920s. During much of the early 20th century, Southside contributed a number of leaders to local and state Baptist causes.

The church was the first church in Alabama to televise a worship service, in 1950. In 1968 the church dedicated a new 48-stop Samford Memorial Pipe Organ designed and built by organist Ted Tibbs and the Holtkamp Organ Company of Cleveland, Ohio.

As the demographics in Birmingham changed around the church, Southside remained dedicated to ministering to the increasingly diverse population of the neighborhood rather than moving to a suburb of Birmingham (as did, for example, First Baptist Church of Birmingham, formerly located downtown). A concurrent change also occurred in theology, as it began to distance itself from the fundamentalist doctrine and morality of almost all the Birmingham area's other Southern Baptist congregations, staunchly professing support for freedom of thought and social action.

The church offers space for other congregations to meet, including Iron City Church, the Korean Baptist Church, the Lighthouse International Church, the Church at Birmingham, and a Chinese congregation that later organized independently as the Birmingham Chinese Christian Church (now the Birmingham International Church). Southside also provides space and support for community ministries and non-profits, including Family Promise of Birmingham, Bridge Ministries, Alabama Possible, and Collaborative Solutions Inc.

In 2001-2002, Southside Baptist provided worship space to Temple Emanu-el while its facility was being renovated. Currently Southside Baptist is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Alliance of Baptists, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Alabama State Baptist Convention. The SBC and ASBC affiliations are somewhat loose.


External links


  • Sulzby, James F. Jr (1947) Annals of the Southside Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, 1886-1936. Birmingham: Birmingham Printing Company
  • Allen, Lee (1996) Southside Baptist Church: A Centennial History. Birmingham: A. H. Cather Publishing
  • Flynt, Wayne (1998) Alabama Baptists: Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press
  • Garrison, Greg (July 28, 2014) "Southside Baptist pastor, who officiated same-sex weddings, retires after 15 years." The Birmingham News