Presented by Bettye Lessley:
On January 21, 1879, in consideration of $25.00, H. G. Darby sold to “the Rising Star Colored Baptist Church” three (3) acres of land, lying in the extreme north east corner of the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter, Section #32, Township 21, Range 4 East in the Coosa Land District (Talladega County Deed Book X, page 532).
On December 29, 1883, in consideration of $16.50, H. G. Darby and wife, Mary C. Darby, sold to this same church two (2) acres of land adjoining said three acres above described, said two acres being bounded at that time on the east by land of J. M. Lanning, south and west by H. G. Darby and on the north by the three-acre church lot, said two acres to be used for graveyard or burial ground (Deed Book and page number of this deed is not known).
On April 15, 1899, all of the above information was incorporated into another deed in which H. G. Darby and wife, M. C. Darby, ratified the earlier deeds and gave a quit claim to Thos. Oden, Geo. Oden, Andrew Wiggins, Thomas Darby and Peter Morris, as Trustees and Deacons of the Rising Star Baptist Church for the use and benefit of said church (Talladega County Deed Book 52, page 402).
In 1909, the members of the church worshipped in an old schoolhouse approximately fifty feet from the site of the present church. Later, a small frame church was built. This was weatherboarding covered with a tin roof. There was a steeple with a cross at the top. When Dr. N. C. Shepherd, who served the church for forty-two years, was the pastor, the people were trying to decide whether to rebuild or remodel the old church. Then, on Monday evening, March 2l, 1932, at 7:00 o’clock, a tornado completely destroyed the church. The next morning, tin from the roof and other parts of the building were found on the property of Mrs. George Atkinson on South Norton Avenue
The church was soon rebuilt. On Thursday, July 28, 1932, there was an article on the front page of The Sylacauga Advance giving the plans for the dedication services to be held. The cornerstone laying and dedication services were to be held on Sunday, July 31, 1932, Beginning at 9:00 A. M. there was to be a Sunday School Mass meeting, led by S. H. Joiner, the superintendent. Devotional exercises were to be conducted by Rev. Lewis Thomas and Persia Taylor, after which Buford Salter was to read a history of the church. Remarks were to be made by Rev. Shepherd and Deacons D. D. Killebrew, Peavy and Joiner. At 11:00 o’clock the progress of the Yoke Fellow’s Bible Class report was to be made by Burton Slaughter. There was to be a solo by Mrs. Marie Peavy, followed by the dedicatory sermon by the pastor. A prayer by George Oden, a deacon, a song sung by the choir and a collection would end the morning exercises.
After the Processional at 1:00 P. M., Dr. William B. Hood, pastor of the Sylacauga First Presbyterian Church, was to deliver the Dedicatory Address. Adelphia Lodge, No. 213 A. F. and M. “colored,” was to have charge of the laying of the cornerstone.
White friends of the church were invited to be present at 2:00 P. M.
At 3:30 P. M. a B. Y. P. U. service was to be conducted by the president, L. M. Darby, and at 6:00 P. M. a missionary program was to be led by Mrs. Pearl Jones. This would be followed by a sermon by the pastor.
S. H. Joiner was to be Master of Ceremony. The committee on arrangements was to be composed of J. B. Cook, D. D. Killebrew, Tom Peavy, S. H. Joiner, Mrs. J. B. Wright and Inez Collins.
The name for the church was given it by Rev. Washington Wilkes, one-time pastor of The First Baptist Church of Sylacauga, who also ordained the first deacons of the Rising Star Baptist Church, according to Don Killebrew, the oldest member of the church in January of 1956. His sister, Amanda Miller, was said to have been the second oldest of the 750 members at that time. Rev. Shepherd was said to have been in his 29th year as pastor of the church.
Later Rev. C. Howard Nevett came to serve the church. Under his leadership, the sanctuary was remodeled, and plans were made for a new education building.
On Sunday, September 7, 1969, Rev. John Speigner was installed as the new pastor of the church.
On November 14, 1986, Rev. Manuel Smith III came from Birmingham as the new pastor. There have been many additions, improvements and new members over the years. In October of 1988, Rev. Smith is quoted as saying,”By September of 1987, this dream of Rising Star for twenty-two years of building an education building had become a reality.” Rev. Smith, a graduate of The Birmingham Baptist Bible College, is still serving as pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church in Sylacauga.
On the third Sunday in August of this year, the members of Rising Star Baptist Church will celebrate the 123rd anniversary of their church.