Academy Baptist

Jackson County
Org 1810
Photography by Tom Reed

According to church records, Academy Baptist was organized in 1810 and became a member of the Sarepta Association in 1812. It is the fourth oldest Baptist church in Jackson County after Oconee Baptist, organized in 1788, Cabin Creek in 1796 and Black’s Creek in 1803. The church history tells us the founding of the church was led by Jared Cunningham, one of the earliest settlers who moved into this part of Georgia from Virginia and settled near, what is now known as Hurricane Shoals, on the North Oconee River. He later moved westward and established his homestead on the Middle Oconee. Academy Baptist was established near his homestead at a location with natural springs for a water source. One of the springs fed the Baptismal pool that is still in existence, although no longer used for that purpose.

The next information on the church is a deed issued in 1818 from James Appleby to the deacons of Academy that states “James Appleby doth agree to relinquish, for the use of Academy Church, all rights, title and interest unto a certain lot of land containing five acres, more or less, including the Academy meeting house”. This five acres is the site of the present church which replaced the older church in 1874. Additional acreage was given to the church in that year by James Roberts, giving the church its present total of just under nine acres.

It is remarkable that a church founded by some of the earliest Georgia settlers over 200 years ago, during the presidency of James Madison, is still going strong today. The congregants of Academy Baptist have been serving the needs of the local community for over two centuries at the same location while preserving the historical character of this beautiful sanctuary built in 1874. A good example of their loving stewardship is the restoration of the old spring fed baptismal pool in the forest close to the church. It is no longer in use but you can see it in one of the subsequent photos. Many souls have been saved over the past 200 years on this sacred spot.