Our Church History
1891 - PRESENT
Mankind records history as a memorial to the deeds of those whom has served their time and will carry on for the ones to come as an inspiration, as a guide, and as a prayer warrior.
In 1891, twenty-eight years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Lake Elam Baptist Church was organized under the leadership of Rev. C. H. Payne. The structure of the church was that of a wooden frame sitting high off the ground on the banks of the Alabama River, at a place called Jackson Lake. Later, a spot of land, located in the Sandtown community was donated by Deacon John Washington to become a new resting place for the church.
Soon after, the wooden frame began its journey from the lake, up a dusty trail along the L & N railroad track, through the Widows Home and Long Quarter communities and placed on the lot where the current front parking lot is now located. Different methods were used to move the structure, but the main mode of transportation was by an oxen and wagon.
Ministers who served at the Lake were Rev. Brown, Rev. Gardner, Rev. Hazey, Rev. Lilly, Rev. Moore, Rev. Pettus, Rev. Oden, Rev. Thomas, and Rev. A. W. Wilson. The building was remodeled in 1944 under the leadership of Rev. A. W. Wilson. The deacons who served during this time were Joe Bradley, Dave Crenshaw, John Isom, Oscar Iverson, Sr., Andrew Jackson, V. E. Jackson, Chairman, Joe Slaton, Joe Washington, John Washington, and Fred Williams.
As the years continued, additional deacons were added to include D.F. Adams, Oliver Fenderson, Harry Iverson, Sr., Willie Jackson, V.E. Long, Johnny Prince, Will Robinson, Matthew Washington and Walter Wilson. A dining room with kitchen and bathrooms were added to the structure. Sister Sally Bradley Jackson served as one of the first church secretaries. In continuation of serving the church, additional secretaries came thereafter to include Minnie Duncan, Levicy Zeigler, Doris McCall, Cassandra McCullough, Sally Crosby, Valorie Pettway and Deborah Townsend served in roles as Administrative Assistant, Secretary and Assistant to the Pastor. Gwendlyon Long served as Finance Secretary.
In 1974, Rev. William Ashley accepted the call to Pastor Lake Elam. With his overseas military duties and community service as City Councilman, he served faithfully for 23 years. Under his leadership and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, major steps of progress were made. Rev. Ashley was instrumental in acquiring the adjacent property, we currently reside. During Rev. Ashley's leadership, he added additional deacons and formed a trustee board. These deacons were Joe Brown, Clarence Former, Jr, Willie Jackson, David Perry, Elvis Pettaway, Benny Terry, and Sammy Zeigler. The trustees included Robert Brown, Victor Long, Leon Johnson, Jr, Alvin McKithen, and Frank McQueen, Sr. As the church continued to be blessed, the congregation broke ground for a new structure. This structure was completed January 1996 with the Consecration Service on February 25, 1996. It included a larger sanctuary, a fellowship hall, a pastor's study, baptism pool, a choir room, finance office and five restrooms. Thereafter, Rev. Ashley retired as Pastor and Associate Pastor Wilbert Wright led the flock from 1997 to 1998.
In 1999, Rev. Richard Russell, of Troy, Alabama, was selected to be Pastor of Lake Elam. Under Pastor Russell's leadership, Lake Elam grew in membership, ministries, and the worship service reached a higher level. Under Pastor Russell's leadership, we eradicated the mortgage of the 1996 structure and broke ground on a larger structure November 14, 2004. The first service, in our 300 seated structure, with new audio and video equipment, double sized choir loft, and additional offices and restrooms, was held on March 12, 2006. During Rev. Russell's tenure, he added eight deacons and five trustees. Deacons included George Edwards, Benjamin Frazier, Matthew Jackson, Theodore Jackson, Victor Long, Alvin McKithen, Walter Perry, Oliver Weatherly. The additional trustees were David Brown, Maurice Griffin, Leon Pressley with Wayne Long and DeWayne Milford being added in 2012. Rev. Russell served Lake Elam as Pastor for over 12 years.
On September 2, 2012, God sent Marcus D. Collins, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, to serve and lead Lake Elam to the next level. Under Pastor Collins' leadership, the church grew on the fast track in membership growth, community involvement, outreach and evangelism all while launching eight new ministries. On March 2013, Pastor Collins launched the "Good to Great Stewardship Campaign", challenging the members to give sacrificially towards the eradication of the current structure built in 2006. Under Pastor Collins' spiritual guidance, in December 2013, we burned the mortgage! In less than one year under Pastor Collins' leadership we welcomed over 100 new members, tripled attendance at bible study, and had one of the fastest growing Children's and Teen Ministry in the River Region. In August 2014, ground was broken for additional parking to accommodate the continuous growth of the church. The Lord gave Pastor Collins a vision for Lake Elam, labeled Vision 2013: "Good to Great", captured in the vision statement... "While grateful to God for a bright and rich past, Lake Elam Baptist Church has visions to realize and promises to keep before she sleeps." During his tenure, Gregory Cain, Maurice Tarver and BJ McCullough were added as Deacons. Tremaine Wilson currently serves as Finance Secretary and Marjorie Bowden as Church Secretary. Rev Collins served as Pastor for over four years. Rev Eddie Hill, Jr., served as Interim Pastor for 11 months.
Lake Elam selected Pastor Gary L Jackson, Sr., as our new shepherd. He began his leadership of this congregation on March 11, 2018.