CRESTVIEW — Bobbie Brown, 84, sifts through memories with Woodlawn Baptist Church's senior adult pastor George Katzman laughing and reflecting on a meaningful part of her life since she was 20 years old — her church.
For 62 years, Bobbie saw a church grow from a small log cabin with six members to the full-time ministry it is today.
"When I think about Woodlawn history, I get a little sentimental and a lot humble," Bobbie said. "And, sometimes I cry."
Woodlawn Baptist Church began in 1955 as a mission church — a church receiving support from other ministries.
First Baptist Church borrowed money from the Home Mission Board, which they used to purchase a log cabin in Crestview.
Thus began the Woodlawn Baptist Mission.
Bobbie, from Laurel Hill, was attending her parent's church and First Baptist Church prior to Woodlawn Baptist Mission.
One Saturday afternoon, Bobbie said the mission's pastor visited their home inviting them to the mission.
In January of 1956, Bobbie and her late husband, J. W. Brown, attended the mission's first Sunday night service in the cold log cabin with a broken fire place behind the preacher, one "naked" light that was just a light bulb hanging from the ceiling, and slatted pews Bobbie said were uncomfortable.
Three people not including her and her husband attended the service, Bobbie said.
At the first Sunday night service, J. W. became the first person to profess his Christian faith, according to Bobbie. He was also the first person to partake in baptism at the mission.
Bobbie said she moved her letter of membership from her church in Laurel Hill to the mission after that Sunday night service.
Although they were small, Bobbie said the church started on a good note with a pastor, a full set of Bible studies for Sunday school, and mission programs.
"We had Bible school, and we had one little boy that first year jump out of the screen window," Bobbie said.
Bobbie was involved in many parts of the church including the first five-person choir.
"We would sing and you had to watch — bugs would fly in your mouth," Bobbie said.
She also taught Sunday school classes and kept the church's records.
In one year, Woodlawn grew from a mission to a full-time church that no longer relied on help from other ministries.
But, this required hard work of members like Bobbie and her "dear friends" who believed in their cause.
"We had doubts, but our faith really helped us out," Bobbie said.
All of the labor, the church members did themselves from cleaning bathrooms to building Sunday school rooms. Katzman described it as "see a need, meet a need."
In 1958, the church moved out of the log cabin into a white cinder block sanctuary, one that Bobbie said actually had air conditioning.
"We had real good light there," Bobbie said as she chuckled.
From there, the church continued to expand their buildings and in 2000, had their first service in the current worship center.
"I think it was the Lord's will for it to happen," Bobbie said.
Although she's unable to attend church due to health issues, Bobbie still proudly holds on to many pieces of Woodlawn's history like a window and pew from the log cabin and other pieces of church history.
"Not a lot of people would go into a mission like that," Bobbie said. "You put more into it, but you get more out of it."