Black, white Moulton congregrations reunite

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MOULTON, Ala. – A relationship forged during slavery brought the congregations of two Moulton churches to the same pews Sunday.

MOULTON, Ala. – A relationship forged during slavery brought the congregations of two Moulton churches to the same pews Sunday.

Descendants of former slaves and slave owners sat side-by-side in the audience on a recent Sunday and sang in the choir stand.

“This is probably a preview of heaven and what we all better get used to seeing on Sunday,” the Rev. Ron Etheridge of Moulton Baptist Church said. “And it’s a mighty good thing.”

Etheridge, interim pastor at predominantly white Moulton Baptist Church, preached Sunday at Freeman Tabernacle Baptist Church to help it celebrate its 140th anniversary.

The historic moment that links the two churches is recorded in the worn minutes of Moulton Baptist Church.

“Church met in conference,” the faded entry reads. “On motion, letters of demission were granted to the colored members of the church and permission granted them to organize a separate church.”

Former slaves submitted the request, and the decision for dismissal was unanimous among the white members on July 25, 1869.

The churches have celebrated before. “But nothing like this one,” Freeman Tabernacle Baptist Church pastor Jonathan Snodgrass said. “This celebration supersedes anything we have done before, especially when the two choirs came together.”

The almost 90-minute ceremony reflected on the past and looked to the future.

Both Etheridge and Snodgrass agreed that the churches should get together more often, especially when you look at their historical links.

A year after Moulton Baptist organized in 1849, the church had 10 Black members. By 1855, almost 40 percent of the membership was Black.

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