Local church celebrates 40 years

Published 2:05 am Wednesday, January 12, 2005

By by Lee Weyhrich
Though the traditional 40 year anniversary present is rubies, West End church of Atmore is is just happy to celebrate nearly 40 years with a roof over their heads.
When the church was founded its members were not so lucky. The church was founded Dec. 13 the second Sunday of that month in 1964. Its first meeting was held in a most unlikely place.
"We started out in the old Panarama Pines Beer Joint,"said the Rev. Woody Allison, the church's first and only pastor. "It was so cold that day it was pitiful. My wife and children sat on the old bar stools and I sat behind the bar and brought the message."
After that meeting the congregation decided to move their services to a slightly more appropriate meeting place.
"After that service in the old beer parlor we made arrangements to use an old house for four to six months. It was so small," Allison said.
Eventually the church was able to buy land to build a proper church at 100 West End Drive, the church's current location.
Until the church could be completed other arrangements had to be made.
"We got an old army tent from somewhere and put it on the land. We had our service in the tent and our Sunday school under the old oak tree," said Clair Allison, Allison's wife.
Problems occured that delayed the groundbreaking for the building and forced it to be built in a different location. "The land failed the perk test. The inspector came up to me and said, the only thing that land was good for was maybe a fish pond. We built the church farther back on the land," he said. "I got to thinking about what the inspector said, and well, now people from all over the area fish in our pond," laughed Allison.
Allison has been the pastor at West End since the beginning. "People ask how I could stay at a church that long. I always tell them, 'either they like me or they feel sorry for me and I'd rather think they like me,'" Allison said. "I expect it's a little of both," he added with a chuckle.
West End celebrated its anniversary Dec. 12 with a cook out with all the trimmings. The congregation honored the pastor with a generous monetary gift and several personal gifts.
Allison also asked a favor of The Atmore Advance, "I wanted to point out a couple of the faces in the old picture (Page 1). That's my son on his knees in the front. The baby on his shoulder's name is Staff Sgt. Randy Johnson. He's just spent a year in Iraq with the Army and we'd like for people to pray for him; that he'll make it back safe."
They also ask for prayers for Staff Sgt. Timothy Snider who is also in Iraq.

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