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Our History

“…may you keep foremost in your minds the challenge of [the hymn] 'Lead On, O King Eternal' as we move forward as a church and individuals. My prayer is for you that you may know the truth of the words which meant so much in the life of our loved one that we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth...”

This is an excerpt from a Rocky Ridge newsletter written by Eugenia Shurbet, the widow of the late Rev. R.L. Shurbet after his sudden accidental death in 1956. It reflects the spirit which has characterized Rocky Ridge Church over the last 170 years. The following is a brief history which paints a picture of the hard-working, faithful people which make up this congregation.

The census of 1820 was the first census in this area for the newly born state of Alabama. It lists only a handful of families living in the Rocky Ridge Community. Among the families were the Actons, Baileys, Armstrongs and Watkins.

There was no organized church in the Rocky Ridge Community until 1854, according to a manuscript on the Acton family history. Reverend Robert Bailey conducted services in a "brush arbor" in the Rocky Ridge settlement in 1853. The result of these meetings was the organization of the Rocky Ridge Cumberland Presbyterian Church on June 5, 1854, by eleven charter members. The eleven that made up the church in the beginning were: John V. Acton, Passa D. Acton, William Acton, Elizabeth Acton, Z. W. H. Acton, Kitsey Jane Armstrong, Zelphia Levi Armstrong, Daniel Watkins, Drucilla Watkins, Martha Watkins, and S. H. Watkins. The Reverend George M. Simpson, a circuit preacher, is credited with being the church's first paid "full time” minister. He came to the community once a month preaching on Saturday and Sunday. His salary consisted of room and board and possibly a chicken, ham, canned goods and the like.​Shortly after the brush arbor meeting, a log building was soon erected that served as our first sanctuary. Sometime in the 1880s the log building burned to the ground. The church building was moved from its initial location near or at what is now AAA across the street, to its present site around 1914. The newly constructed building was a one room, white framed structure costing $1,600.00 to build. 

Though the church was poor and struggled through difficult economic times during the 30s and 40s, it was full of life with Annual Singings drawing an overflow crowd, the Annual Children's Day Programs, and the yearly Christmas Program making up the ever growing ministry of a growing church. All this growth took place in this small one room structure. 

This white frame structure remains today, making up what is now the Adult Sunday School wing. Extensive remodeling both inside and outside has been done throughout the years that followed.

Today, Rocky Ridge CPC has remained a presence in the Birmingham community. We believe in the power of relationship with one another and with God to hold us together throughout the ups and downs of life. It is our goal to continue to cultivate both today and beyond.

 

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