In the late Summer of 1963, Whitesburg Baptist Church decided a mission was needed to provide for the people in the area surrounding Weatherly Road in Southeast Huntsville. Shortly thereafter, a 3 ½ acre plot of land across from the newly built Weatherly Heights Elementary School was purchased. On October 6, 1963, with 17 families in attendance, the Whitesburg mission was founded in the Burt Carpenter home, which was located atop Weatherly Mountain. During the mission’s first few weeks, the Rev. Joel Oswalt of Bluntsville, Alabama was the guest speaker. The Rev. Joe Crawford soon became the mission’s first interim pastor.
In February of 1964 the mission called its first full-time pastor, the Rev. Harold Shirley, who accepted the call the following month. During this time, the city of Huntsville was experiencing an explosion of rapid growth with the relocation of NASA and the development that was taking place in the Rocket City. Rev. Shirley brought many ideas to the mission that were based on the ideas of research and development and his numerous projects were highly innovative. One of Rev. Shirley’s greatest contributions was forming the GUIDE program and the Receiving and Caring service for new members. The GUIDE Program stands for Guidance, Understanding, Insight, Discovery and Evaluation.
Under Rev. Shirley, the mission projects quickly began to grow. During the first month the Rev. Shirley was at Weatherly, the mission purchased a lot on the corner of Cannstatt and Dortmund Drive, which is the current location of Weatherly Heights Baptist Church. Construction on the new chapel began soon afterward.
Growth continued at the mission so that just two months later, in May, the house adjacent to the new church lot was purchased for educational purposes. Three years after the house on Cannstatt was bought, it was converted into a Mission House to be used by missionaries who were home on furlough.
The Chapel was completed in June of 1964 and the first church service in the new building was held June. 7. The following Sunday, the mission constituted the Weatherly Heights Baptist Church during a service at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. On June 21, the new facilities were officially dedicated.
The church continued to flourish under the Rev. Shirley’s guidance and by June of 1966, WHBC’s new sanctuary and educational building was ready to be occupied. The first service in the new addition was held on June 30th.
In May of 1969, Rev. Shirley resigned to accept the call as the pastor at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. David Burhans accepted Weatherly’s call in September of 1969 and his first sermon as pastor on Oct. 5th, 1969 also happened to be the 6th anniversary service of the church.
Under Dr. Burhans, Weatherly continued growing and another need for expansion arose. In Oct. 1973, the Lighthouse, a multi-purpose building, was constructed. The Lighthouse is used for many purposes, the upstairs, called the Upper Room, is where the Youth Group meets. Downstairs, the Gym is used for many functions. Wednesday evening supper meets in the Gym and many large groups meet in the Gym. The Lighthouse facilities are often used by members in the community for events.
In August of 1974 Dr. Burhans resigned from Weatherly and accepted the call at the University of Richmond as their Chaplain. Todd Wilson became the third Pastor of Weatherly in April 1975. Dr. Wilson’s main emphasis was to focus on the holistic character of the Christian faith. He believed the church was an extension of the ministry of Jesus, a ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing. Dr. Wilson established a time each fall for sharing our religious autobiographies, which continues even to this day. In 1999 Dr. Wilson accepted a call to another church.
In December of 1999 Weatherly called Dr. David Freeman to come as pastor. Dr. Freeman’s contributions have been many in his first few years of his ministry. He has continued and strongly supported the tradition of interfaith dialogue. Dr. Freeman led the church to call its first Minister of Spiritual Formation, a new way for Baptists to think about Christian education. Also added was a Minister to Families with Children. This position was created because Dr. Freeman and others sensed the urgent need to minister to the young families of our community. Respite Care was also begun with the coming of Dr. Freeman. Since Weatherly initiated this ministry, other churches in the community have recognized its importance so that every Friday night now, a family can receive a much needed “respite” from the care of their child(ren).