65 years later, Highland Baptist and
Broadway Baptist together again
A relationship that began 65 years ago came full circle in East Florence on Easter Sunday 2012 at a new church campus called Highland Baptist Church Broadway Fellowship.
The church, formerly known as Broadway Baptist Church, at 3215 Huntsville Road, rejoins Highland Baptist Church on Simpson Street with the East Florence congregation. Highland Baptist started Broadway as part of its local mission work in 1947, only Broadway was then called Weeden Heights Baptist Church. It was officially constituted as a church in 1948.
But Highland pastor, Dr. John Brock, was unaware of this bit of interesting church history in 2011 when he wanted to find more ways to work with local residents. Highland already had an active congregation that nourished people not just spiritually but physically through events including “block parties” that offered free food and clothing to residents in need.
“But there was no long-term investment in their lives,” Brock said.
So he prayed, and had the staff at Highland pray with him for God to open an opportunity to invest more in the lives of local residents. Then one day, a year later, while out driving, he saw Broadway Baptist Church and was compelled to stop.
Meanwhile, a Broadway member was seeking advice from Eddy Garner, director of missions at the Colbert Lauderdale Baptist Association. Broadway’s faithful members saw their attendance numbers decrease over the years and were worried about whether their church would continue.
At about the same time, Sammy Gilbreath, director of the Office of Evangelism for the Alabama Baptist Convention in Montgomery and a former Highland Baptist pastor, was given the job to help revitalize churches and came to meet with Broadway members to help find a way to once again grown their congregation.
“It’s been a God thing,” Brock said about the timing of his prayers, Broadway’s need and Gilbreath’s involvement. “God worked this out in ways we couldn’t have.”
It was only later, as Highland and Broadway members repainted, unrolled new carpet and constructed a children’s area for the anticipated growth, that Brock learned there is a history between the two churches. Having Broadway as a branch campus of Highland brings the two churches full circle in order to expand yet again and answer Brock’s and his staff’s prayers that Highland would establish yet another tangible investment in the city’s spiritual future.