Fort Davis Ranks number 3 among 635 Churches in Support of Seminary Students

Spring 2014 Brochure Cover Art

Fort Davis UMC, as captured on the front of the Foundation’s Spring 2014 brochure.

One of the most beautiful small membership churches in the state of Alabama is the Fort Davis United Methodist Church, located just off Highway 29 on the southern border of Macon County. The church was built in 1902. The shellac on the paneling and altar rail was made personally by George Washington Carver, who at that time was a 38 year old soon-to-be world famous scientist at Tuskegee Institute.

For 112 years, the church has played a prominent part in the spiritual lives of individuals from Fort Davis and the nearby Seaboard Railroad communities of Armstrong, Roba, and Downs. However, like so many other small membership churches scattered across rural Alabama, the church suffered dramatically when, through the years, members followed their jobs to urban areas. As a result, the attendance at the morning worship service decreased to approximately 12 on any given Sunday. During those difficult years, it was not surprising that the leaders of the church made the decision to remove and store some of the pews, giving the congregation more room in the sanctuary.

However, under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Keith Turner, something almost miraculous began to happen within that church a couple of years ago. Faithful members began to take a more active interest in the church. Th ese long-time members began to practice radical hospitality to those who moved into that area.

Being located only 6 miles north of the famous Sedgefild Plantation where the National Championship Field Trials for bird dogs are held each year, people in other states began to hear about the great quail hunting in that area and chose to relocate near Fort Davis. Now the church is reaping the reward of having so many loyal, long-time members joining hands with energetic and enthusiastic newcomers, and the results are impressive.

During the month of January, there was the wonderful sound of a hammer as a building contractor moved
pews back into the sanctuary to make room for worshippers on Sunday morning. Now that they have enough
pews to accommodate their increased attendance, there is a great sense of excitement and enthusiasm among
all of the members. Th is small membership church that once struggled to survive now gives very generously
to support various mission projects. It is amazing that the Fort Davis United Methodist Church ranks No. 3
among all of the 635 churches of the Alabama-West Florida Conference in their support of seminary students.

When asked, “What has brought about this change in the life of the Fort Davis church?” the church treasurer, Jimmy Bassett, was quick to give credit to their pastor, Keith Turner, and his wife, Rhonda. “They both have given great leadership.”

fordavisumc

Fort Davis UMC, Christmas 2012

Russell Evans Elebash, celebrating her first year as a member, not only gives credit to the wonderful pastoral leadership, but adds, “The church has a family atmosphere. Everybody cares about each other. I love everyone in the church!”

Frankie Davis Kenney, the church historian, speaks highly of the positive influence of newcomers like Charles and Heather Klinck, “Charles won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. He meets people at various social events like the field trials and invites them to church. He is very persistent.”

Rev. Turner is quick to give all of the credit to the members, “These good people got excited and started to carry out the Great Commission by inviting others from the community to the church. They believe in doing ministry the way Jesus did. They reach out to people where they are and minister to them. They are very loving, caring, non-judgmental, and accepting of others.”

It is not unusual now, on any given Sunday morning, to see pick-ups pulling horse trailers lined up in front of the church (Highway 2), ready to go to the sedge fields of northern Bullock and southern Macon Counties as soon as the pastor pronounces the benediction.

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