In 1896 Dexter Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church South began a mission in the Highland Park area of Montgomery.  The mission met in an old abandoned building along the Central of Georgia railroad tracks.  In the early 1900’s members of Dexter Avenue realized that the Highland Park area was in the process of becoming a residential community.  Young families were buying and building in the neighborhood.  At that time that was the eastern most boundary of the city.  The Dexter Avenue members felt that the Highland Park neighborhood needed a Methodist church.  One member, Mr. Adolph Roemer, donated money for a lot on the corner of Forest Avenue and Rhodes Street.

On May 1, 1903 ground was broken for the new Methodist church.  On June 28, 1903 the first service was held in the Forest Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church South.  The church was a one room gray wooden building.  There were 34 Charter members.

The congregation grew so rapidly that by 1913 a new brick auditorium had to be built.  In September 1928 a new educational annex was completed at the unheard cost of $100,000.  In the summer of 1933 the first Vacation Bible School in the state was held at the church.  There were 251 children in attendance—children of every denomination.

Tragedy struck on December 15, 1944 when fire broke out in the sanctuary.  There was a fire station just around the corner and though the trucks were there in minutes, the sanctuary could not be saved.  On the following Sunday the congregation met in the Fellowship Hall and pledges were made for rebuilding.  Even children emptied their piggy banks.  A new auditorium was built and in March 1947 the first service was held there.  It was a beautiful sanctuary and we happily met there for almost 30 years.

But trouble was coming.  Young families so necessary for the wellbeing of any church began to move from the neighborhood.  Interstate 85 and Jackson Hospital were displacing other members.  Attendance and membership declined.   Membership shrank to 200.  We knew we had to move or die.  Dying was not an option so in a church and charge conference in August 1970 the membership voted to relocate the church.  In December of 1970, ten acres of land was purchased on Vaughn Road.  On August 1, 1971 the congregation voted to change the name of the church to Aldersgate United Methodist Church.  On April 8, 1973 the last service was held in our beloved old church.  Our pastor, Lester Spencer, let the congregation out of the church for the last time.  He was carrying the cross and the Bible from the altar and we followed singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.”  There were not many dry eyes in the crowd.  The following week we began to meet at Huntingdon College.  We were a church without a home.
On February 9, 1975, the first service was held in the Fellowship Hall of our new church building.  We felt like we had come home and it felt very good.

We met in the Fellowship Hall until June 29, 1980 when the first service was held in our beautiful new sanctuary.  In 1990, we added the children’s wing and in May of 1998 our new Christian Activity Center was completed.

Our first building cost $2307.  Our complex is now worth millions.  From 34 charter members, we now have a membership of almost 1600.  To God be the glory for one hundred three wonderful years.

Mary Ellis
Church Historian