First Baptist Leeds celebrates 109 years on Sunday

First Baptist Leeds turns 109.

On Sunday, First Baptist Church Leeds will welcome current and former members of its congregation back to celebrate the Annual Homecoming Celebration. This week, the church turns 109 years old.

The church began in the basement of Leeds Presbyterian Church on April 10, 1910. 

“The Presbyterian Church in town let our first members meet in their basement and start their church,” Pastor Steven Weems said. “There will always be a neat connection between our church and theirs. They helped be the incubator for us to get us started.”

Former Pastor Ray McKenzie will deliver the message at Sunday’s service, while his wife, Sandra, will be singing special music for the service. McKenzie served as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Leeds from 2008-2013. He is now the director of the Elmore County Baptist Association.

Weems has also invited many familiar faces back. While he isn’t sure yet who will accept, he knows that he’ll find a way to get them involved.

Sunday School will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the service will begin at 10:45 a.m. Everyone is invited to join a potluck luncheon that will follow in the gym, allowing some of the newer members to connect with people that may have moved to other communities. 

“It’s a chance to get to know each other,” Weems said. “Leeds is growing, especially among young families. And that’s one of the purposes of doing this—allowing our new members a chance to get to know the folks that helped build the church, giving them a chance to know why it’s been here for 109 years.”

As the community grows, Weems looks toward what he expects from the next 109 years.

“We believe that it is incumbent upon us to grow with the community,” he said. “We hope to do our best to serve the community, to reach the community.” 

And he said he expects First Baptist Church of Leeds to be among his final stops. He has six children ranging from preschool to middle school in the Leeds City Schools system. And he understands that the church wants stability in the position.

Weems grew up in Leeds. He graduated from Leeds High School in 1997, and he spent much of his youth playing sports at the gymnasium at First Baptist Church of Leeds. 

Weems never really tried to get back to Leeds. He was enjoying his service as the senior pastor at Huffman Baptist Church, and he said he was deeply connected to projects at that church. 

“I initially told him no,” Weems said of his first response when he was called by a member of the hiring committee for First Baptist Church of Leeds. “There were some things that we were working on at Huffman that I wanted to see through until the end, and I didn’t want to give up halfway through.”

But over the course of the next few months, things worked out. 

“We completed the things that I wanted to see through,” Weems said. “At the beginning of the summer of 2017, I called (First Baptist Church of Leeds) back and said, ‘Hey, if you guys are still interested, I’d love to send you a resume.’”

Weems’s homecoming was in October 2017. 

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