Calvary Baptist Church to celebrate milestone | Feature Story

Calvary Baptist Church, in Scottsboro, will celebrate its 70th anniversary Sunday.

“We will have a celebration service in combination with Thanksgiving,” said Pastor Dr. Matt Helms. “We will have meals you can take home or eat here.”

Helms has returned to the church as its pastor after nearly 25 years. Helms previously served as the church’s pastor from 1989-1996.

“I’ve been back about three months,” said Helms. “I am happy to be back. It’s something I never expected.”

Helms, licensed and ordained in 1975-1976 at First Baptist Church in Fort Payne, pastored his first church, Christian Valley Baptist Church in Livingston. At the age of 32, he came to Scottsboro in 1989.

“Not a whole lot has changed,” said Helms. “I think the community has gotten a little larger.”

After leaving Calvary in 1996, Helms pastored churches in Satsuma, Union Springs and Eufaula.

“[Calvary] was looking for a pastor,” said Helms. “I had stayed in touch with a few people over the years.”

Like all churches and most of the country, Calvary has had to deal with COVID-19. Helms said during the pandemic, services were held on social media or taped. He said, with restrictions, Calvary resumed normal services on June 21.

The church

Calvary Baptist Church began in 1950 with a three-week tent revival. On Nov. 5, 1950, Calvary Baptist Church was organized with 71 charter members and first pastor, Billy Kitchens.

On May 13, 1951, the church moved into its first building, located on Bynum Avenue. On Oct. 1, 1951, the church requested to be admitted to the Tennessee River Association.

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Due to the objections of one local minister, many of the members had to be re-baptized by a Southern Baptist ordained minister in order for the church to be admitted.

The first homecoming was held on Nov. 4, 1951 with 177 present in Sunday school.

The church moved to its current location, 305 County Park Road in Scottsboro, on Dec. 5, 1970.

By Nov. 3, 1985 on Homecoming Day, the church was debt free, so the mortgage was burned by Don Cooper and Embril Edwards as part of the celebration and praise service.

In 2000, Dr. Robert “Jody” Gamble came to his home church, who had ordained him as a minister 32 years earlier. Gamble served as pastor from April 2000 to April 2013. During his time, a 2020 Vision Plan was developed and adopted.

In November 2013, Dr. Alan Hayes became Calvary’s ninth pastor, serving until September 2018. During Hayes’s pastorate, Calvary hosted several community wide Spring flings, resulting in several young growing families becoming part of the church’s membership.

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