Robertsdale United Methodist celebrates 100th anniversary

By John Underwood
john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 2/4/22

ROBERTSDALE — The Robertsdale United Methodist Church celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Jan. 30 at the church on Alabama 59 North in Robertsdale.Originally planned for October of …

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Robertsdale United Methodist celebrates 100th anniversary

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ROBERTSDALE — The Robertsdale United Methodist Church celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sunday, Jan. 30 at the church on Alabama 59 North in Robertsdale.

Originally planned for October of 2021, the anniversary celebration was moved to January 2022 because of pandemic concerns.

"Our members have worked hard for this day for over two years, and we are ready to celebrate the great ministry of this church," said the Rev. Dr. Christine Cook, who has served as the church's pastor since 2021. "My prayer is that this church will continue to serve this community for another 100 years to bring people to Jesus Christ, because that's what it's all about."

The church welcomed special guests, including Bishop David Graves, bishop in residence for the Alabama-West Florida Conference, which includes more than 600 churches in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle; the Rev. Dr. Deborah Bishop, district superintendent for the Baypines District, which includes Baldwin County, and Mobile District.

"We think of 100 years, so many people have come," Bishop said. "There's been many weddings, funerals, professions of faith. People have joined the church here in this place. This is what it's all about. This is our story."

Proclamations were presented by Mayor Charles Murphy and members of the Robertsdale City Council, Ruthie Campbell, who served as a member of the church's Centennial Committee, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Kitchens and Paul Hollingsworth; and Baldwin County Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood.

Special guest speakers were Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack Jr., who is a member of the church; and Baldwin County District Attorney Robert Wilters, whose grandparents were some of the earliest members of the church.

Mack produced his original church membership certificate from 1974 and said he began coming to the church as a child to help his grandfather light the pilot lights on the gas furnaces.

One of his fondest memories as a youth, he said, was attending choir camps at Blue Lake.

"One of the things we would always do at Blue Lake is that we would gather around the cross and sing songs and one song that was very, very popular back then was a song called 'Pass It On,'" he said. "The first words to that song is 'It only takes a spark to get a fire going,' and that's my prayer for this church as we continue on for another 100 years is that we keep the spark and keep it going."

Wilters recalled how his family history was tied to the church. His great-grandparents Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Wilters, were some of the earliest settlers to the area in the early 1900s.

His grandmother, Emmie Killingsworth Wilters, became a member of the church in 1922. His grandfather, Harry Wilters Sr., became a member in 1926 and served as the first superintendent for the Methodist Sunday School.

His grandfather served as mayor of Robertsdale and was the postmaster from the 1930s to the 1960s. Wilters Street in Robertsdale is named for him.

His father, Harry Wilters Jr. served the elected position of Circuit Court Judge from 1975 to 1989 and continued to serve as a retired judge until 2010, shortly before his death in 2011.

"Thank goodness for the church, Sunday School and youth group helping my father in his early days to establish the foundation he so needed and that we all need," Wilters said. "This church certainly means a lot to my family and to me and I certainly appreciate all that you have done."

Special message for the service was "His Love Endures Forever" presented by the Rev. Kristen Curtis Wright, associate minister of Ashland Place UMC in Mobile.

She is a 2012 graduate of Robertsdale High School, Huntingdon College and Emory's Chandler School of Theology.

Wright moved to Silverhill with her family in 2005 when she was in the fifth grade and started attending the Robertsdale United Methodist Church.

Following the sermon, Cook said a blessing over the new church time capsule with Centennial Committee Chairperson Susan Koier. The old church time capsule was placed in a cornerstone on the church at the dedication of the church sanctuary on the present property in 1959 containing a newsletter, bulletins, leadership rosters and membership roll and a written history of the church.

A new time capsule will be placed back in the cornerstone at a later date for future generations to open.

Bishop presented the benediction and blessing of the meal, followed by lunch served in the church fellowship hall.

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