Founded with Love and Hope
The Elizabeth Baptist Church has a long and interesting history. Throughout its 113 years of Christian service, the Church has steadily grown in membership and its determination to truly be the house of God. The year 1888 will forever be a red letter day for Tuscaloosa, for it was the year in which Elizabeth Baptist had its beginning under the leadership of the Reverend Lucious Jones as its first pastor. Remembering the Lord’s words, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them”, 25 eager Christians imbued with love and hope of our Lord founded the Elizabeth Baptist Church.
Our old church was erected in 1959 under the leadership of Reverend Virgil Spencer. Deacons and trustees made and continued to make significant contributions toward the support of the pastors and the church.
The first site was the property acquired on the Greensboro Highway as a gift from the Tuscaloosa Coal Iron and Land Company in 1889. The Church moved from that site in 1891 to a location between the Southern Railway Depot on the Greensboro Highway and the oil mill on the right-hand side of the track going south. Those early years were years of struggle and sacrifice. The hardships abounding during the turn of the century and a slow economy made it hard to respond to the capital needs of the Church.
Despite that, the Church continued to grow and moved to the 24th street location in 1913. The community surrounding the Church became known as “Elizabeth Quarters” in deference to the Church’s contribution to the community. In 1945 under the leadership of Rev. F.L. Harris, a block church was built to replace the old frame structure. This block church stood until 1959 when the present structure was erected under the leadership of Rev. Virgil Spencer. His tenure as pastor was begun in 1949 and continued for ten years. By this time, nine pastors had served: The Reverends Lucious Jones, Allen Cook, Erwin Thomas, W.P. Cook, Andrew Lewis, L.J. Hendrix, J.C. Gordon, F.L. Harris and Virgil Spencer. The deacons and trustees made and continued to make significant contributions toward the support of the pastors and the Church.
In 1960, the Rev. H.T. Carstarphen came to the pastorate of Elizabeth bringing with him many years of dedicated service as a school principal in the surrounding counties. It was under Rev. Carstarphen’s leadership that extensive renovation was completed on the present structure in 1976 with the additions of two wings.
The Church grew both programmatically and structurally under his leadership. Auxiliaries were added to the Church; the sanctuary was carpeted; the parking lot was paved; a radio broadcast was begun; and the membership was increased. Many other accomplishments stand as a testimony to his leadership. In 1982, GOD revealed to Rev. Carstarphen a plan for the Church. This plan assured that the mission that had been started could be carried on with an equal measure of zeal and devotion. Rev. Carstarphen after serving this congregation faithfully for 22 fruitful years decided to retire as pastor of Elizabeth and asked the Church to call the Rev. Vernon Swift as its pastor.