A new partnership between the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama and the First Presbyterian Church of Anniston will mean a beautiful Anniston church will remain occupied and maintained for years to come.
The 19,000-square-foot church building is more than a structure to the community. It has been an emblem of charitable contributions and ministry for over 100 years in Anniston, according to J. Mitchell Rogers, the foundation’s vice president of community partnerships.
Although the building was constructed in the 1960s, its history dates back many years earlier.
“When it was built in the 60s, and with quite modern architecture for the time, it was a building that people noticed,” Rogers told 1819 News. “Before it was a dairy farm and it sat on six acres. At that time, there was no houses and the community was not built up so that church became a beacon when you drove up Quintard Avenue.”
With its tall cathedral ceiling and grand entrance, that beacon became an icon. Although homes and a busy neighborhood surround the church decades later, Rogers said the building still means a lot to the community. So, the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama stepped in when the church congregation began to dwindle.
“We don’t want to see another building fall into disrepair in Anniston,” Rogers explained. “This is such an icon of property here. When we thought about it and did a study, the board of trustees elected to say this is too important of a property and too important to the community.”
The agreement will mean the Community Foundation will take over ownership of the building, a youth center and two houses on the 6.6 acres.
The nonprofit will oversee operations and maintenance of the church, but the church will continue to have services and operate as a church. There will be community outreach programs, and the nonprofit will eventually move its offices into the building.
Church members said they are happy to see their church being saved.
“The congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Anniston and the Presbytery of Shepherds and Lapsley believe the Community Foundation fulfills the wishes for the new owner to be an active member of the Anniston community’s charitable base,” said W.G. Scott Burleson, Jr., the church treasurer. “The foundation has generously offered the members continued use of the Church if desired.”
Rogers said the surrounding community feeling has been revived since news broke about the partnership. The bells are now ringing every hour at the church, and Rogers said the reaction from residents has been surprising.
“We have had people reaching out asking, ‘Please do not turn off the bells,” Rogers said. “We didn’t know something so simple could have such a lasting impact on a community.”
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