Community Spotlight: Lennie Carroll

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By Wendy Hood, Staff Correspondent

Etowah County resident Lennie Carroll was born in Attalla in 1935 to Knox and Stella Whitt.

Lennie Carroll is one of very few women in Etowah County to ever serve as Senior Pastor in a church.

Carroll built Sand Valley Assembly of God Church in Attalla in 1962 and has pastored it for the past fifty-four years.

Carroll grew up on a cotton farm in  the Sand Valley area, the oldest of seven children. She married Wayne Carroll in 1954, one week after graduating from Etowah High School.

Only twenty years old, Wayne Carroll was just returning from combat in Korea.  After the wedding, the couple moved first to North Carolina, then California in search of work. During this time, Carroll had two children, Mike and Chris. After four years, the couple returned to Alabama to live in Mobile. It was in Mobile that Carroll began to sense the Lord was calling her to return to Sand Valley and build a church.

Carroll said she saw a great need for a church in Sand Valley, but as an uneducated, unemployed woman with an unsaved husband and two small children, she could see no way to could answer God’s call.

“I don’t have any money. I don’t have anything,” she said she would tell God.  She said that He would answer her and say, “If you go, I’ll prepare the hearts before you.”

In 1960, the couple returned to Etowah County. With her sister Charlsie to help her, Carroll began her first attempt at starting a church.

“I rented a plot of land for four dollars a month from a widow woman. We put some old pews and a wooden pulpit on it, right out in the open. Then we went around and gathered up all the children that didn’t go to church and brought them. It was July and hot, folks would be driving by and there I was standing out in the open, preaching to a bunch of kids. I know people thought we were weak-minded.”

Eventually the local district of the Assemblies of God contacted Carroll and offered assistance in getting a church building framed. Construction began and was carried out primarily by Carroll and a few local men. The first service was held in April of 1962.

Carroll said that at the time she was focused on building a church, never imagining that she would pastor it.

“I thought I would get the building ready and God would send a man to pastor it.”

However on the first Sunday in the new building, there was no male pastor to take the lead, so Carroll got up and spoke. Carroll said that for three years she preached every Sunday, yet continued to pray for God to send a man to take over. God would only remind her, “Just be faithful.”  Finally, she realized that God had called her to Sand Valley to pastor.

Carroll said she has a deep love for all the people who live in the Sand Valley area.

“Valley people are my people,” she said.

She performs numerous weddings and funerals every year for people that live in the area but do not attend church.

“My largest congregation has always been outside the church.”

Carroll’s husband did eventually get saved and served with her for many years in her ministry before his death in 2007. They were married for 53 years. Carroll has two children, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, plus a host of nieces and nephews.

Sand Valley Assembly of God Church will celebrate its 55th anniversary in April. Lennie Carroll, at age 81, is still the pastor.

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