West Blocton, Alabama

For two weeks, I was so excited that I had met my goal of posting twice a week. Then school started around here, and my middle child turned 10, and I turned another year older, as well. So between beginning of the year homeschool chaos and birthday celebrations, we are back at one post a week. Or maybe, on a subconscious level, I don’t want to reach the end of this list of municipalities. I have so enjoyed this project, that perhaps I am finding ways of  stretching it out to last as long as possible. Nah, that couldn’t be it. Anyhow, won’t you join me today in praying for West Blocton?

Located in northern Bibb County, about 40 miles SW of Birmingham, at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains

Mayor Jesse E. Reese (I had a hard time tracking down the name of the mayor, and this may be old information that I finally found, so if I am incorrect, please let me know.) Correction: the current mayor is Gary Donner. Thanks to Mike Logan for letting me know that!

Settled in the late 1880s by Russian-Jewish immigrants during the coal-mining boom. (see www.isjl.org for more on the history of Jewish people in the South.)

2010 population: 1, 240

  • A feature-length documentary, West Blocton: Small Town, Big Heart was made in 2012 by Michael J. Logan, an independent filmmaker whose family is from the town. It covers the history of the town from its inception in 1884 to present day.
  • Incorporated in 1901
  • First named Suttletown after an early store owner; then Smith; and finally West Blocton to differentiate from the nearby town of Blocton, which no longer exists.
  • The two towns were called “Blocton” because of the ton blocks of coal removed from the mines there.
  • The area is still known for its now-historic beehive ovens, built in the late 1880s for coke production. (Coke is a fuel derived from coal.) www.cokeovenspark.com
  • At the height of its production, 467 coke ovens produced 600 tons a day.

It seems we prayed out of this passage not too terribly long ago for another city, but this was the one I was drawn to today, and it’s one of my favorites.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a – “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by You,’ declares the LORD.”

Heavenly Father, we praise You because You are a great God who rules and reigns in holiness, splendor and unrivaled majesty. You are Sovereign over us and all things. Your will has been established from before the foundation of the world, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2). And even though you are so high and lifted up, so exalted, You desire to be with us. You want us to seek You and to find You. You draw near to us. How can this be? I don’t think we can hope to understand it, but to just respond with hearts of gratitude and praise and thanksgiving, and by worshipping You with our whole lives.

We pray for the town of West Blocton, Alabama, today. Thank You that You have a plan for this town’s welfare and future. You have established it for Your purposes and for their good. We pray that You would make that evident throughout this town, and in the lives of each person who lives there or who is somehow a part of West Blocton.

We pray for a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ would come to each home in West Blocton. Make the ones who already know You to be men and women of prayer. Cause them to tirelessly seek Your face, not for what You can do, but for who You are. May the Church in West Blocton be whole-life worshippers of the One True God, and in so doing let them find You – fresh revelations of Your mercy, Your grace, Your holiness, Your faithfulness. Cause these revelations to transform them and transform their town.

We pray for Mayor Donner and the rest of the leadership in West Blocton. Grant them wisdom and humility to seek You in all of their ways. Thank You for the assurance in this passage that they will find You when they seek You with all their hearts. If there is anything that is hindering “whole-hearted seeking” by them, we pray that You would reveal it and set them free from it. Equip them by Your grace to be the leaders You have called them to be. Encourage them and strengthen them as they put their trust in You.

We pray for all these things in the name of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. Amen.

What verse comes to your mind as you pray through this post with me? I would love to see it in the comments!