The history of any endeavor is always closely entwined with the economic, political and social conditions of the time.
Prior to 1929 North Gadsden, which is the oldest part of the city, was a prosperous community. There was an operating ore mine, a blast furnace, two soil pipe foundries, a railroad, two lumber mills and a heading mill, which furnished employment for almost anyone who wished to work. Turkeytown Valley was blessed with fertile farm land, which produced over one thousand bales of cotton plus other commodities each year.
This prosperity was not to last, however. In October 1929, the bottom fell out of the economy. As the depression lingered, increasing numbers of industries closed. Small businesses failed. Building ceased. The blast furnace in North Gadsden was closed and dismantled for scrap. The ore mine, pipe foundries, lumber mills, and railroads were closed, leaving all of the people who had been employed out of work.
It was under those economic conditions in early 1933 that the Holy Spirit moved upon the hearts of the people and said, “Build me a house of worship that I may dwell among you.” (Exodus. 25:8) Why did God choose that particular time? The answer is possibly found in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my grace is made perfect in weakness.”
Having recognized the need for a house of worship in the Hooks Lake community, Mrs. Pearlie Lasseter Hamric and Mrs. Ruth Hooks Landreth initiated the calling of the first meeting for the purpose of discussing the building of a church in February 1933. An acre of land was donated by the estate of the late James S. Lasseter. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the church was organized with six charter members. A motion was made to name the church James Chapel, in memory of the late James Lasseter. The church was known by this name until it was incorporated in 1950, at which time the name was changed to James Memorial Baptist Church. The church called the Rev. C. G. Garrett to serve as its first pastor.
Many Pastors and staff members have served James Memorial Baptist Church over the years and many buildings and renovations have been constructed. Over the years, the church purchased land, a parsonage, and organized VBS and other ministries. The church has always been heavily involved and supportive in foreign mission work and community ministry. Many vans and buses have been purchased for the purpose of community outreach and ministry mobilization. Several people have answered God’s call to carry the gospel and have been licensed or ordained by the church. Thoma Hall, a member of the church, served as a missionary in Taiwan. James Memorial Baptist Church continues to strive to fulfill its purpose to glorify God through exalting Jesus Christ, evangelizing the lost, encouraging the child of God, and equipping the saints. The journey continues...