An Alphabet of Birmingham Churches

For some December levity, Winter the Bear went over the mountain (and back) with me on my bike and posed with churches from A to Z. We climbed a total of 1,550 feet in our 35-mile ride though Homewood, Mountain Brook, Irondale, East Lake, Gate City, Woodlawn, and Avondale. In some shots Winter hogs the camera, in others she’s up close to the church and you’ll need to may to hunt to find her. Where’s Winter? Enjoy!

A is for All—All Saints’ Episcopal Church

All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Homewood’s Edgewood neighborhood was founded in 1928, the church building opened in 1948.

B is for Bethel—Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Bethel A.M.E. is the second-oldest congregation in Homewood’s oldest neighborhood (Rosedale). Union Missionary Baptist Church (see U below) is slightly older.

C is for Community—Community of Christ

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints remained itself Community of Christ in 2001. This building in Birmingham’s Eastwood neighborhood was built for a Wesleyan Methodist church but the Community of Christ has been there at least as long as I’ve been in Birmingham.

D is for Dawson—Dawson Memorial Baptist Church

Dawson wins the prize for “church that most looks like Pavilion II” (at the University of Virginia). It is located in Homewood’s Edgewood.

E is for East—East Birmingham Church of God in Christ

East Birmingham’s building was built for Woodlawn Baptist Church which later moved to become the Church at Liberty Park

F is for Friendship—Friendship Baptist Church

Friendship Baptist Church in Homewood’s Rosedale was formed by a group that withdrew from Union Missionary Baptist Church down the street. There inlies a tale!

G is for Greater—Greater Emanuel Temple

Greater Emanuel Temple Holiness Church in Birmingham’s East Lake neighborhood was built for Ruhama Baptist Church, the oldest congregation in Birmingham

H is for Holy—Holy Rosary Catholic Church

Built in 1889, Holy Rosary is probably the oldest surviving wooden church in Birmingham, but the bear was more interested in the statue of St. Francis of Assisi. The church is in the Gate City neighborhood.

I is for Irondale—Irondale United Methodist Church

Birmingham has a number of handsome single-hall Gothic revival churches built in brick after World War II. This is one All Saints’ Episcopal (A above) is another, St. Barnabas Catholic in Birmingham’s East Lake and Valley Christian Church on Shades Mountain are others.

J is for James—St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church

Long flights of stairs leading to the front door were common on churches before World War II because they allowed the ground floor to to be used for Sunday school and other functions. St. James is one of three churches in Birmingham’s North Avondale.

K is for Kame—St. John Kame Coptic Orthodox Church

Services at St. John Kame in Rosedale occur on Saturdays since the priest needs to come from Atlanta. There was a service in the church when we took this picture.

L is for Luke—St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

The interior of Mountain Brook’s St. Luke’s in gets my vote for the most unique interior of Birmingham churches. It is also one of my favorites. The dialogue between Georgian Colonial and modernism you see on this façade, gives you a taste of what is inside.

M is for Mountain—Mountain Brook Baptist Church

If you’ve looked down on Mountain Brook from Shades Mountain (in Vestavia Hills), Vulcan on Red Mountain, or an airplane arriving in Birmingham from the east but having to land from the west, then you’ve seen the spire of this church sticking up along amid a sea of green. Designed by Harold Wagoner it is very tall and on a ridge.

N is for Ninevah—Ninevah Missionary Baptist Church

Ninevah’s building was built in 1952 for Sixty-Seventh Street Methodist Church in East Lake.

O is for Our—Our Lady of La Vang Catholic Church

Winter is especially interested in the outdoor shrine of Our Lady of La Vang and the Nativity scene next to it. This church iin Woodlanw has had three names St. Clement, St. John Bosco, and, now that it serves the Vietnamese community, Our Lady of La Vang

P is for Peter—St. Peter’s Anglican Church

Peter was crucified upside down and St. Peter’s logo is a fish with its tail up. Winter imitates the saint and the logo. The building was built for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mountain Brook.

Q is for Quaker—Birmingham Friends Meeting

The Birmingham Friends Meeting bought this house in Avondale built in the 1910s near the beginning of the 21st century to serve as its home.

R is for Redeemer—Redeemer Community Church

Redeemer’s building was built in 1913 for Avondale Baptist Church (later called South Avondale Baptist Church).

S is for Star—The Star

Officially named New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church, the congregation at 7400 London Avenue now in East Lake now calls itself simply “The Star”

T is for Trinity—Trinity United Methodist Church

The building behind Winter was Trinity’s main sanctuary form the 1940s to the 1970s. This congregation was established in Edgewood in the 1920s.

U is for Union—Union Missionary Baptist Church

This fieldstone building is the oldest church building in Homewood.

V is for Vine—The Vine Birmingham

Woodlawn Presbyterian Church renamed itself Trinity Presbyterian when it moved into this building in Eastwood. Now it is home of a church called The Vine.

W is for Woodlawn—Woodlawn Deliverance Temple

East Woodlawn is a historically African American community. It is home to Old Ship African Methodist Episcopal Church, Metropolitan Community Church, and a three others, including this one.

X is for Xavier—St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church

Winter wanted to pose in the woods on the side of the church. She found a lichen covered rock. The church is in Birmingham just over the city line from Mountain Brook in Birmingham.

Y is for Valley (Oops! At least it ends with Y)—Shades Valley Presbyterian Church

Pedaling a bike, counting from A to Z, thinking of church names, you make some mistakes. Yielding Chapel at Birmingham Southern starts with Y, but was far from my route. Like Samford University’s Reid Chapel, this church was designed by Van Keuren and Davis and built at the end of the 1950s.

Z is for Zion—Zion Spring Baptist Church

Adam Mixon, a graduate of Samford’s religion department, has been pastor of this historic church in Avondale for over 20 years.
Winter is sprawled out on the bike seat, because she’s tired of crawling in out and out her bag, but she never tires of seeing churches.

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