Church History


"Threads of Vestavia Hills Baptist Church's history are
woven intricately into the fabric of the community."
from an article previously published on visitsouth.com

In 1957, the city of Vestavia Hills was merely seven years old and growing. Sensing the need for an additional Baptist church to serve this growing community, seven Baptists met at the Vestavia Hills Elementary School to discuss the possibility of organizing a new church in the Vestavia Hills community. It was decided that this group would meet regularly at City Hall. Dr. John Wiley was called as the first pastor of this church with 150 charter members. Since the Presbyterian church met at City Hall at 11:00 a.m., the Vestavia Hills congregation elected to hold services at 10:00 a.m., a practice that has continued. The members set forth their mission:

We of the Vestavia Hills Baptist Church associate ourselves historically and traditionally with the church established by Jesus. Our aim shall be that which we believe to be the directive of him whom we call Lord. We seek to worship God with dignity and sincerity. We desire to learn together the facts and truths of the Christian faith. And we want to be teachers of these truths. We believe them to be the only adequate way of life. We are a fellowship of concern. Because of the love and forgiveness of God which we have experienced, we seek to love all man- kind and to demonstrate that forgiveness." Meet Our Staff Our History Directions



Seeking a permanent location for their new church, members purchased the Vestavia Temple in 1958. This unique landmark located upon approximately 20 acres of land was built by George Ward, a former Mayor of Birmingham, as his personal residence. The home was modeled after the Temple of Vesta in Rome. After Mayor Ward's death, and prior to 1958, the facility served as a restaurant. Significant work was required to adapt the building to a church. Find more history of this property.


The church constructed an education building in 1963 providing much-needed classroom space and room for future growth. After Pastor Wiley resigned in 1968 to enter pastoral counseling, C. Otis Brooks of Monroe, Louisiana was called as the church's second pastor in August 1969. In that year, the church grew to more than 600 members.

VHBC continued to mature and provide spiritual blessings to its members through worship, Bible study, and missions participation. Significant building programs under Dr. Brooks' leadership would include the present sanctuary in 1972, a new Fellowship Hall, Kitchen, and Adult classrooms in 1981. With an openness of spirit and a discernment of God's guidance, the Deacon body recommended to the church that all leadership positions be opened and filled without regard to gender. For the first time, women were ordained as deacons and considered for other leadership positions. In 1978, the VHBC Child Development Center was formed to assist those families with working parents. The Child Development Center offered quality care and teaching to infants through four-year-olds.

Upon Dr. Brooks' retirement in 1988,. The church called Dr. William H. Elder III from Little Rock, Arkansas as its third pastor in June 1989. Growth continued and an emphasis in worship styles clarified VHBC's preference for a traditional approach to worship. Dr. Elder resigned in 1992.

In August, 1993, Dr. Gary Furr, from Blakely, Georgia, accepted the call to become the fourth pastor at VHBC. Under Dr. Furr's leadership, the church embarked in strategic planning to re-define the church mission and objectives. This planning led to the development of a Master Plan for the church property.


A $5.9 million building plan evolved in 2000. A successful Capital Stewardship Campaign made it possible for the work to begin. In April 2000, plans were interrupted by a tornado which significantly damaged the sanctuary and offices. Damages amounted to over $1 million. This caused a reprioritizing of the sequence of the building-plan schedule, resulting in immediate repairs and updating of the sanctuary and church offices.

Upon completion of repairs, the church returned its attention to the original construction schedule, beginning with a groundbreaking ceremony for a new choir suite on Palm Sunday, April 8, 2001. In 2002, members gathered in front of the church, along Shades Crest Road, to break ground for the new preschool/children and student buildings. In May of 2003, new buildings for preschool, children, high school and college students were completed along with additional classrooms for adults. The project culminated with the installation of playgrounds for infants- through 12-year-olds.

Several acres of trees destroyed by the tornado were replaced with a beautiful park including an outdoor amphitheater. Gifts of time and money have helped to replenish the church grounds with trees and shrubs. The prayer point overlooking Shades Valley and memorial gardens surrounding the facilities have been added. These improvements have added to the beauty and enjoyment of our church both in worship and aesthetics.




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