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HISTORY OF THE LANETT CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE


A hunger in the heart of some Lanett people to hear the message of second blessing holiness was the starting point of the Lanett Church of the Nazarene.

 In the latter part of 1928 and the beginning of 1929, Mr. & Mrs. W. K. Kitchens, Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Groover, Mrs. Unice Collins, and Mrs. Cora Dean heard about the Church of the Nazarene and its teaching concerning the Spirit-filled life.  These people were members of the Christian Church, but their hearts were hungry for holiness.  They went to Fairfax to hear Rev. Forrester, pastor of the Fairfax Church of the Nazarene, preach.  They were impressed with Rev. Forrester and his message.  They invited Rev. Forrester to hold cottage prayer meetings in Lanett.

 Early in 1929, Rev. Forrester accepted their invitation and started holding holiness cottage prayer meetings on Sunday afternoons.  The prayer meetings were held in different homes but mostly held in the home of the Kitchens and the Groovers.

 In 1927, Mr. Bob Nelson moved from Lanett to Manchester, Georgia.  Mr. Nelson did not profess Christianity.  After moving to Manchester, Mr. Nelson met a Nazarene by the name of Mr. Broom.  Mr. Broom soon led Mr. Nelson to the Lord and Christianity.  Mrs. Lillie Thomas Hamby, who knew Mr. Nelson before he left Lanett, went to Manchester to work.  One of the first people she met in Manchester was Mr. Bob Nelson.  After hearing Bob’s testimony of salvation, she told him of the Nazarene Cottage Prayer Meetings being held in Lanett.  Mrs. Lillie Thomas Hamby invited Mr. Nelson and Mr. Broom to attend the prayer meetings in Lanett.

 Mr. Nelson and Mr. Broom would drive from Manchester to Lanett on Sunday afternoons to help conduct the prayer meetings.

 Shortly thereafter, Rev. Forrester asked Mr. Bob Nelson to be responsible for the prayer meetings, and he graciously accepted.  From May to 1929 until December of 1929, Mr. Bob Nelson conducted the cottage prayer meetings.

 Those attending the prayer meetings realized the need for an organized church.  They invited Rev. W. A. Manasco, District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene in Alabama to come to Lanett and organize a church.  On December 29, 1929, Rev. Manasco organized the Lanett Church of the Nazarene with seven members.

 The organization took place in the home of Mr. & Mrs. W. K. Kitchens, and the charter members were, Mr. & Mrs. W. K. Kitchens, Mrs. Katie McNaron, Mr. J. W. Kent, Mrs. Will Edwards and Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Groover.

 Mr. Bob Nelson was appointed pastor by Rev. Manasco.  On the day the church was organized there was $6.00 in the treasury.

 The congregation worshipped for a short time in the home of Mr. & Mrs. W. K. Kitchens.  It wasn’t long until they had located property on which to build a church.  The lot they found was actually a frog pond.  The lot was located on the corner of Jennings Avenue and Collins Street.  Collins Street was later renamed 8th Street.

 Mr. W. H. Groover bought the lot from Mr. Charlie Hill for $500.00.  Mr. Groove donated the property to the newly organized Lanett Nazarene Church.

 Mr. Groover and Mr. Kitchens were working on the lot, draining off water, preparing the lot for the new building.

 A little barefoot boy came by driving his cows to Harmon Pasture.  The little fellow said, “Hey mister, what are you doing?”  They replied, “We are preparing the lot to build a Church of the Nazarene.”  The little barefoot boy reached in his pocket and pulled out six cents.  He said, “I want to make a donation on the church building.”  Donation of property by Mr. Groover and 6 cents donated by the little boy, were the first donations toward the building of a great church.  The barefoot boy was Tom Crenshaw.

 With Mr. Kitchens and Mr. Groover doing most of the work, the first building was completed in 1930, valued at $2000.00

 Rev. Nelson served as church Pastor until 1932.  Rev. W. H. Crouch, from Shawmut, was called as Pastor.  He also served the church for two years.   At the end of Rev. Crouch’s term, Rev. Nelson returned to pastor until a Pastor could be called.  Rev. Crouch returned for his second term and remained Pastor for 9 months.  The first two Pastors served two terms.

 Rev. H. H. Hooker, the District Superintendent, appointed Rev. C. H. Lancaster to supply Pastor until the District Assembly.  After the Assembly, Rev. Lancaster went to Sylacauga, and Rev. W. P. Colvin, then Pastor of Sylacauga, came to Lanett as Pastor.

 While Rev. Colvin was Pastor, the first church parsonage was built.  The land was donated either by Mr. Kitchens or Mr. Groover.  The parsonage was a lovely seven-room house built in a pasture near the section called Harmon Town.  The location is now known as Norman Division.  The parsonage was valued at $2,500.00 and when it was completed the church only owed $800.00 on the building.

 Clyde Perry held a revival in Shawmut in 1931.  The Denson Gray family, some of the Huff family, Lois Moon Watson, Jack Britt, the Murphy family, Catherine Langley and others were saved.  These people walked to Lanett to attend the Church of the Nazarene.  Their talent, presence, and support gave the new church a great boost.

 In 1937, Rev. P. C. Ramsey was called to pastor the church.  Rev. Ramsey was a very unusual man.  His preaching was hard and straight.  One of his sayings was, “Well, I’m going to nail your hide to the wall and salt it down.”

 During the ministry of Rev. Ramsey, the building was raised and a basement put under it.  Several Sunday School rooms were built in the basement.  The front entrance was changed and the building lengthened.

 A man by the name of Captain Lindsey was hired to oversee the work and lay the stone.  Most of the work was done by the men of the church.  Harvey Welch, Charles Brand, and Clarence Griffin were the main pillars in getting the work done.  These people worked on the second shift in the mill and spend their mornings working on the church.  The stone used in building the basement was gotten off the property of Alex Welch.  Mr. Welch also furnished the equipment used in raising the building.  He, along with Cecil Huff and Roy Bohler gave some free labor on the building project.

 One day Rev. Ramsey was standing around trying to tell the men how to do the work when Captain Lindsey said, “Brother Ramsey, have you ever raised any buildings?”  The Reverend said, “No.”  Captain Lindsey then said, “Well you better go study for the Sunday sermon and leave the bossing to me.”  The preacher never offered free advice again.

 During the ministry of Reverend Ramsey something strange happened.  Rev. Ramsey awakened to find a strange and unusual formation in the bottom of the bathtub.  Pictures were taken and put in the local paper, and the parsonage was opened to the public to see the strange design.  Many people came to view the unusual formation.  Rev. Ramsey said this strange formation was a warning indicting that someday the parsonage would go up in flames.  A few months in the ministry of the next pastor, the parsonage burned.

 In 1941, Rev. Dallas Baggett came to pastor the church.  God blessed Rev. Baggets’ ministry in a special way.  His praying and fasting and Bible preaching got the church moving.  He fasted so much at one time he nearly died.  He, Jack Webb and Barney Brumbeloe knocked on every resident’s door in Lanett.  When the Baggets came as pastor, the highest Sunday School attendance was 47.  The highest attendance during his pastorate was 314.  He challenged the people to pray, fast, work, and double tithe.  The congregation accepted the challenge and God blessed.

 During the ministry of Rev. Baggett, the parsonage was destroyed by fire.  The Baggetts moved into a house on Jennings Avenue, the site where the CVS Pharmacy now stands.  Rev. Baggett led the congregations in a remodeling program that added some Sunday School rooms, bricked the church and installed new church pews.

 In 1944, Reverend James Hamilton moved to Lanett to assume the duties of pastor.  Rev. Hamilton was a great Bible preacher.  He stayed on his knees seeking God’s will for messages.  The church rented a house on 8th Avenue to be used as a temporary housing for the Hamilton family.  About a year later the church bought a home on Fuller Street to be the parsonage.

 In the Fall of 1946, Rev. Wallace Bell, Sr. moved from Tennessee to become the church pastor.  Rev. Bell was a wonderful shepherd of the flock.  He loved the people and people loved the Bell family.  The Bell’s had three teenage children and they were instrumental in witnessing and inviting other young people to become involved in the church youth program.  The first Sunday of pastorate, Mrs. Bell came to church with black eye due to a backyard ballgame involving the young people of the church.  God blessed the ministry of Rev. Bell and in the years serving as pastor, 61 members were received on profession of faith.  Rev. Bell led the church in a remodeling program, completion of downstairs classrooms, added a room on each side of the church platform, and painted the church.

 Under Rev. Bell’s leadership a home was bought on South 8th Street becoming the location of the church parsonage.  This home served the parsonage families until 1962.

 Rev. Gordon Winchester was saved in Holt, Alabama under the ministry of G. A. Golf.  Rev. Winchester became the pastor of Moundville Nazarene Church.  In the spring of 1948, the Winchester family moved into the parsonage on South 8th Street assuming the duties of church pastor.  Rev. Winchester led the church to its greatest numerical gains.  For two years the Sunday School averaged 499 in attendance.  The highest attendance during the two years was 1,000.  Mr. Bud Sessions and Mr. Douglas Mitchum served as Sunday School Superintendents during the ministry of Rev. Winchester.  Mr. Bud Sessions was called to preach and entered the ministry.  Mr. Douglas Mitchum became the Sunday School Superintendent and served for 22 years.  One year Rev. Winchester received 103 members into the church on profession of faith and conducted a Herald of Holiness campaign drive selling a record total of 1,000.  This record total still stands in the denomination.

 Each service the building was filled to capacity.  Due to lack of space, the basement of Lanett Gym was used for Sunday School classes.  Under the leadership of Rev. Winchester, the church holds a homecoming record attendance of 1,084.  During the Winchester administration a building program was begun.

 In 1953, Rev. W. A. Peck accepted the pastorate of Lanett Church.  A tremendous responsibility of building a new church fell into his hands.  The present property was purchased from the Pierce family and the present building was erected on this site.  Cost of erecting this building was approximately $75,000.00.  The men of the church gave hours of donated labor.  Work, sacrifice and prayers made possible the building we now enjoy.  The building was dedicated in 1955.   The building contained an auditorium, 25 classrooms, church office, Sunday School office, and the Pastor’s study.

 In the Spring of 1957, Rev. Donald Ballard accepted the pastorate of Lanett Church.  During his ministry the church enjoyed one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church.  A spirit of unity, love and care prevailed.  Sunday School attendance reached 500, and the leadership of Rev. Ballard was tremendous.  Rev. Ballard moved to McComb, Mississippi in the Fall of 1960.

 In 1960, Rev. Winchester returned to serve the church as pastor until 1962.  God continued His blessings upon Lanett Church under the leadership of Rev. Winchester.

 Mr. Barney Brumbeloe, a resident of Lanett, was saved under the ministry of Rev. Dallas Baggett.  Mr. Brumbeloe was called to preach and went to Langdale, Alabama to begin his ministry.  Now, Rev. Brumbeloe established a strong church in the Langdale community.  After his ministry in Langdale, he pastored other churches in the Alabama District.

 In 1962, Rev. Barney Brumbeloe began his ministry of service in his home church.  The talented Brumbeloe family was very instrumental in the music program of the church.  The church progressed in Sunday School attendance.  Under the leadership of Rev. Brumbeloe, the church basement was remodeled, new furniture purchased for the auditorium, stain glass windows installed in the auditorium, the tea room was built, and a new 4 bedroom parsonage was built directly behind the church.  In the years of his service, the church spent $65,000.00 on the property and everything was paid for.

 On December 18, 1967, Rev. Gerald Woods and family moved into the parsonage to minister and serve the Lanett congregation.  The Woods were instrumental in the church advancement and served the church well in all capacities.  Under the leadership of Rev. Woods, the “Sounds of Joy” musical group was organized with Ronnie Winchester as director.  The musical group was blessed as they presented the Gospel in music in the church services.  The group also performed at other gatherings.

 In May 1973, Rev. Gerald Parmer accepted the pastorate of Lanett Church.  Under his leadership much progress was made as the construction of the Sunday School Annex and the recreational building, now named the Family Life Center.  Rev. Parmer participated in many activities in the Alabama District and the City of Lanett School program.  The Senior Citizens Program began under his leadership.  He was very active on the Alabama District and participated in the activities of the Lanett School programs.

 Rev. Mark Barnes and family came to pastor Lanett Church in May 1978.  Rev. Barnes and his family were very talented.  Their musical ability was a great blessing to Lanett Church.  A new church organ was purchased and installed during Rev. Barnes’ tenure as pastor.  Rev. Barnes accepted the ministry in another church.  He received his Doctorate degree and is now the District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene in the State of North Carolina.

 Rev. Barney Brumbeloe returned in October 1979 to serve a second term as pastor until April 1981.  Again under his leadership, the church was pleased with his leadership and the blessings of God.

 Rev. Bud Sessions accepted the pastorate of Decatur Nazarene Church, moving his family there for a successful ministry.  Later his son Phillip Sessions accepted the call to preach, thus assuming the roll of Rev. Phillip Sessions.  He organized the Columbiana church of the Nazarene and was Pastor there for several years.

 May 10, 1981, Rev. Phillip Sessions accepted the pastorate of his hometown church of Lanett.  He and his family moved into the parsonage and the church was blessed.  Under his leadership the church made much progress.  Our recreational building was remodeled, additional workrooms and a recreation room were added.  A living room was also added and completely furnished.  On Jun 15, 1986, the newly remodeled facility was officially dedicated and named the “Messer Memorial Family Life Center.”

 Rev. Sessions initiated and activated a great bus ministry.  Rev. Leroy Shipley, Associate Pastor was given responsibility of Bus Ministry Director and under his supervision the “Caraway Street Puppet Ministry” was begun.  The bus and puppet ministry was very effective and a tremendous increase in Sunday School prevailed.  The church enjoyed great church advancement under his leadership.  Upon resignation as church Pastor, Rev. Sessions accepted the leadership of District Superintendent of South Alabama Churches of the Nazarene.  As Superintendent, Rev. Sessions received his Doctorate.

 In June 1988, Rev. Larry Owsley accepted the ministry of Lanett Church.  The Owsleys were musically talented and the church continued to enjoy the leadership of Rev. Owsley.

 February 1991, Rev. Robert and Joyce Huff assumed the church leadership.  The Huffs were loved and appreciated by the church.  During the 4-year tenure and leadership of the Huffs the church became and enjoyed being debt free.  Under his leadership new lighting including chandeliers were installed.

 In October 1995, Rev. Jerry Cline assumed the duties of pastor for Lanett Church.  Rev. & Mrs. Cline were both musically talented.  Rev. Cline’s messages were greatly appreciated.  Under the leadership of Rev. Cline the church purchased approximately 109 acres for possible expansion of a new church facility.

 January 1, 1998 to December 1, 1998, Rev. Huff served as interim pastor of the church.  Again Rev. and Mrs. Huff’s leadership was greatly loved and appreciated.

 March 1, 1999 to February 4, 2001, Rev. Thomas A. Conley served as church pastor.  Under the leadership of Rev. Conley the church was involved in a remodeling program.  The sanctuary was redecorated including painting, new carpet, new pews, new pulpit furniture, a new sound system, and a stained glass in the S.S. Annex.  The leadership of Rev. Conley was greatly appreciated.

 March 1, 2003 to October 15, 2003 Rev. and Mrs. Huff served as interim pastor of Lanett Church.  Again under the leadership of the Huffs, the church enjoyed blessings of God and the wonderful fellowship of love, care, and concern given by the Huffs.

 October 26, 2003 to May 2012, Rev. Kenneth D. Wyatt served as pastor of the Lanett Church of the Nazarene.  Rev. Ken and Mrs.Judy faithfully served as our church leaders for almost 9 years.   The church enjoyed much spiritual growth and progress under the wonderful leadership of Pastor Kenneth Wyatt and his wife, Judy. Rev. Wyatt came to Lanett from Tuscaloosa Southside in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

  May 2012 to April 2013 Rev. Sid Shelnut served as Interim Pastor of Lanett Church of the Nazarene.

  April 2013 to February 2017 Rev. Bernie Deffinger was called as Pastor of Lanett Church of the Nazarene. He and his wife, Linda Rae came to Lanett from Nashville, TN. The church experienced spiritual growth thru in-depth Bible Study taught by Rev. Deffinger. During this time Rev. Deffinger along with a number of church members conducted a weekly nursing home ministry at both Golden Living in Lanett and Lanier Nursing Home in Valley. Rev. Deffinger retired from full-time ministry in February of 2017.

  February 2017 Rev. Hylylard Irving served as Interim Pastor of Lanett Church of the Nazarene during during February and March of 2017.

  April 9, 2017 Rev. Kent Pelton was called as Pastor of Lanett Church of the Nazarene and began his service here on April 9, 2017. He and his wife, Kathleen retired from the mission field having served over 22 years most recently in Thailand.

 Last Updated 04/22/2017