Photo courtesy of Eric Velasco
Edgewood Presbyterian Old
The original Edgewood Presbyterian Church opened in 1916, but was torn down in 1952 due to termite infestation. The current sanctuary was opened in 1967, but the church could not afford a new bell tower until its centennial celebration this year.
Edgewood Presbyterian Church celebrated its centennial in October by reviving a symbol of its past while building a foundation for its future.
The congregation first met under a tent at the corner of Oxmoor Road and Peerless Avenue on Sept. 23, 1912, and chose the name Edgewood Presbyterian Church on Oct. 12, 1912, according to a church history edited by Melissa Tate, a retired Samford University professor.
The Centennial Celebration included reinstalling a church bell that called residents to worship from 1916 until 1952, when Edgewood’s original wooden sanctuary and bell tower were condemned and torn down. The bell was brought out of storage for the church’s 95th anniversary and restored this month to a new tower in time for the 100th.
Members also are launching a $250,000 capital campaign to replace the 50-year-old air conditioning units and make other physical improvements, upgrade technology, update landscaping and retire debt.
The official Centennial Celebration was held Oct. 28, and featured guest preacher Terry Newland, executive director of The Synod of Living Waters, which serves the regional church governing bodies in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Known for its huge stained- glass window depicting Jesus, tiny Edgewood Presbyterian Church is a prominent landmark on Homewood’s street of churches. Many know Edgewood as the final station in the annual “Way of the Cross” procession in Homewood on Good Friday.
“A lot of people mention they have seen Edgewood and noticed our ‘Christ window,’ but never have been inside,” said Rev. Sid Burgess, the church’s current and longest-serving pastor. “This is an opportunity for folks to see us from the inside, as well.”
Edgewood Presbyterian Church formed when members of Oak Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Rosedale Cumberland Presbyterian Church congregation merged. They built a wooden sanctuary, installing a bell that had been donated to the Rosewood church in 1898.
Hard financial times soon forced Edgewood to affiliate with several denominations. But the transition back started in 1925, when some affiliates split off to join a new congregation down Oxmoor Road, now known as Dawson Memorial Baptist Church. Another group left Edgewoodthenextyeartohelpform nearby Trinity United Methodist Church.
Again affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, Edgewood’s congregation expanded rapidly before and after World War II. But a rift led to a split in 1950, when the pastor was called to a church in Tennessee and 184 of Edgewood’s 519 members left.
Termites also were gnawing away at the sanctuary, which was condemned as Edgewood marked its 40th anniversary. Services would be held in the education building for the next 16 years.
A session vote in 1962 in support of racial integration led to another membership split as opponents left Edgewood. The remaining congregants celebrated the dedication of the current sanctuary in 1967, but they could not quite raise enough money for a replacement bell tower.
Today’s Edgewood congregation was hewn from the Presbyterian Church debate to allow women to be ordained and gay people to be members. The opposition at Edgewood, including the minister and about half the congregation, left in 1978 to form a new church.
The remaining core of 85 members voted in Edgewood’s first women elders, Nell Barron, Estelle O. Wilbanks and Irma Kennedy. They, along with Carolun Hammill and Amy Duckworth are credited with holding Edgewood together as it sifted through a series of pastors during the 1980s.
Then Burgess – a 20-year veteran of radio and television in the Birmingham area before graduating the seminary – accepted a shared call to Edgewood and another church. His first service at Edgewood, on Nov. 4, 1990, was attended by 25 people.
But the congregation quickly grew under Burgess’ dynamic leadership, resulting in a grant by the Independent Presbyterian Church Foundation in late 1991 that allowed
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The predicted time savings of three to five minutes may even be an understatement, Davis said. ALDOT is currently installing a high-tech traffic signal system called SCATS along Highway 280, which uses an adaptive computer system to reduce traffic delays by adapting to fluctuations in traffic. That project was bid before the proposal to alter intersections, and the two haven’t been modeled together.
But with all the positives that come from a shorter drive down 280, Davis said he is aware ALDOT will be asking drivers to do things differently. At multiple intersections, ALDOT is proposing to remove the ability for drivers to either travel directly across or make left turns. However, the voices of many will likely outweigh the voices of a few. Division 3 Preconstruction Engineer Lance Taylor said some parts of Highway 280 carry more than 100,000 cars a day.
“We have got to consider the issues for the 100,000 to be more important than the issues of the couple thousand trying to get from one side (of Highway 280) to the other,” Davis said. “Change
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on his successes in the public and private sectors as well as strong positions on encouraging and including resident participation in local government.
Specifically, Limbaugh said he wants the council to focus on faster responses to resident communication and aggressively fill open positions on committees and boards. At the same time, he plans to weigh the need for some boards against their effectiveness or importance to city operation.
Beyond the walls of City Hall, Limbaugh, 60, owner and president of Limbaugh Toyota, is focused on Homewood’s economy. For the past 10 years, Limbaugh served as a member of the Homewood City Schools Board of Education and was president for the three of those years. During that time he was a proponent for the development and implementation of a strategic plan for Homewood schools that took effect in 2007. He said that during this term he intends to pursue a strategic plan for the city as well, one that takes a long look at options for certain areas.
“I want to look at what we can do around the Green Springs and Wildwood areas, and it certainly needs to be businesses that step in rather than non-businesses,” he said. “I don’t pretend to have the answers. I think I’ve got the questions. And I think to get those areas going it’s going to take reaching out to some expert advice.”
Limbaugh said he has already had discussions with current and incoming council members about developing the plan, as well as implementing citywide neighborhood associations. He wants to be a listener to both residents and members of government and solidly set a tone of communication for moving forward.
Outgoing president Allyn Holladay, a member of the council for eight years who served the past three as president, said Limbaugh is stepping in to an important but gratifying role. She thinks he’ll do well in the position.
“It’s a very big responsibility, and many
Edgewood to hire Burgess full-time and add key part-time staff.
Edgewood was also one of the first area churches to establish a website. Under Burgess’ leadership, it has expanded its ministries and commitment to racial, social, environmental, stewardship and local causes.
The church, for example, tithes to the First Light Shelter for Women. The capital campaign will provide an additional tithe to the Living River presbytery camp and conference center on the Cahaba River.
Now with roughly 250 members, Edgewood Presbyterian Church is a demographically and socioeconomically diverse congregation that reflects the PCUSA slogan, “Open Hearted, Open Minded.”