Greenwood Baptist

Lincoln County
Org 1772
Photography by John Kirkland

Greenwood Baptist is the 6th oldest Baptist Congregation in the state. It was one of the very early churches that came out of Daniel Marshall’s Kiokee Baptist, the oldest congregation in the state, organized in 1772. Greenwood was originally constituted in 1784 in Wilkes County as Upton Creek Baptist Church, but then relocated to a pine forest about two miles east of its original site and renamed Greenwood. The third and final move took place in 1812 when the church found a permanent home in the Amity Community. The present church sanctuary was completed in 1816. According to the History of the Georgia Baptist Association, “It appears that the building is designed similar to Old Kiokee, erected in 1808. The lumber was hand hewn, 12 by 12 inches, from long leaf pine. The side wall studs and rafters are hand-peeled pine poles. The floor and ceiling joists were hand hewn, 4 by 12-inches thick and 36- feet long — as straight today as when erected. The walls and ceilings are of hand-planed boards — still as they originally were”.

The local history tells us that “Celia Shank, the church’s last black member, is granted a letter of dismissal at her request” in 1880. In 1886 a silver communion set was given by Mrs. Belknap Smith and is currently housed at the church in a place of special recognition as another piece of the history of Greenwood. That same year kerosene lamps replaced candles as the source of lighting. 1888 saw the purchase of the first church organ, and in 1946 “a porch, valued at $826.95, is given to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Boyd, Sr. in memory of their son, John (Jack) W. Boyd, who died fighting for his country”. In 1978, the old building was restored and the belfry and vestibule were added.

To sit in a service at Greenwood Baptist to re-live the history of the early 1800s. Special appreciation is due the two centuries of people dedicated to preserving the remarkably original rural Georgia architecture. Imagine the craftsmanship and workmanship, using hand tools, to construct a structure that is even more useful than it was two centuries ago. The cemetery and grounds are well kept and groomed, allowing visitors to meander among the many years of history. The congregation is still visionary and in 2009 incorporated the church. The wooden walls were once again scraped and painted as the church celebrated 225 years of life. Greenwood Baptist epitomizes the essence of many rural churches in the South. Well built, preserved, and still performing their original mission. A powerful legacy indeed.

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