Contact Info Subscribe Links


December 2021- February 2022

We Need Each Other


Online Edition

Download PDF

iPad and E-Reader




History Resources



Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email


Going the Second Mile to the Magic City

By Hannah Driggers


Next July, Free Will Baptists will pour into the city of Birmingham, Alabama, for the 86th meeting of the National Association. Those attending the annual event on July 24-27, 2022 will discover a unique and revitalized city, distinct in its history and heritage.


Magic City

Founded in 1871, Birmingham was built around the natural resources of coal, iron ore, and limestone. A major crossroads in the South, the city grew so quickly it was soon nicknamed “The Magic City” because so many writers said it "appeared by magic.”

Named for its counterpart in England, the largely industrial town was heavily impacted by the Great Depression. However, after World War II, the city blossomed again as medical research centers, engineering firms, and other industries replaced the iron and steel mills.

While the 1960s tarnished the city’s reputation with disturbing images of dogs and fire hoses turned on Civil Rights demonstrators, Birmingham has risen above that shadowed past, establishing the Civil Rights Institute and Museum and developing a worldwide reputation as a city that promotes and protects human rights.

Today, the city describes itself as young, traditional, vibrant, friendly, and complex. It certainly paints a different picture from the city that hosted previous conventions. Postponed a year by COVID-19, Birmingham will host the World Games in 2022, in the weeks just preceding the convention. While the games pushed the National Convention back a week, the event also gave Birmingham an incentive to give downtown Birmingham a major facelift.

The I-20/I-59 bridge has been replaced, complete with LED ribbon lighting. The 31-acre CityWalk BHAM has become an outdoor gathering place for visitors and the community, with a quarter-mile walking trail. The city has constructed a challenge course, amphitheater, and sports area with artificial turf. From 16th Street to 18th Street, space has been created for food trucks, a roller-skating rink, and an activity zone. Check out the unfolding master plan for Birmingham at

The Uptown District, located on the campus of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention
Complex (site of the convention), has new restaurants and cafés within walking distance. Pizza restaurants, hot chicken, and burgers are among the diverse types of food available. Also in the Uptown District, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame gives fans an opportunity to explore 5,000-plus sports artifacts. Interested in getting in the game instead of reading about it? TopGolf™ is located nearby and is perfect for people of all skill levels.

For those who enjoy free, educational activities, visit the Civil Rights District, with six blocks of free historical sites. The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame boasts exhibits to honor musicians such as Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton. Other free attractions include the Birmingham Railroad Park and Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The city of Birmingham also offers a large zoo featuring 230 species of animals across 122 acres. And, if you enjoy unusual attractions, check out Sloss Furnaces, a free national historic landmark, currently the only 20th century blast furnace preserved in the United States. View the city from amazing heights from the observation deck at Vulcan Park, home of the world’s largest cast iron statue, built for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. If you prefer the great outdoors, head to Red Mountain Park with hiking trails to explore, aerial adventure tours, and team building activities.

Put July 24-27, 2022, on your calendar! We look forward to seeing you enjoy a fresh, new Birmingham. For convention updates, visit

About the Author: Hannah Driggers is the librarian at Olanta Elementary School (SC) and owner of Hannah’s Coffee. She has served as a member of the press team for the past two National Conventions.

Did you know this about Birmingham?

  • Birmingham is Alabama’s largest metropolitan area.

  • Birmingham was the first city in the country to celebrate Veteran’s Day.

  • The corner of 20th Street and First Avenue is referred to as Heaviest Corner on Earth because the four gigantic skyscrapers there were once the largest in the South.

  • Birmingham has its own replica of the Statue of Liberty. Originally commissioned for the Liberty National Life Insurance Company in 1956, the statue stood over the downtown headquarters until 1989.

  • In 1995, Mercedes Benz built its first assembly plant outside Germany near Birmingham.

  • Birmingham is the only place in the world where all the ingredients for making iron—coal, iron ore, and limestone—are found within a ten-mile radius.

  • Southern Living, the nation’s most successful regional magazine, is published in Birmingham.

  • Birmingham is home to the nation’s oldest baseball park: Rickwood Field. It opened in 1910 and hosted baseball legends Jackie Robinson, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

  • The Alabama Theatre is one of only a handful of 1920s movie palaces still operating. A pipe organ still rises from beneath the theater floor for live accompaniment to silent movie screenings and other events.


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists