The following 1994 history is from the Lake Church Board of Deacons – “In Bulloch County, Georgia, on Nov. 27, 1823, in a log building near the Fifteen Mile Creek, a church of Jesus Christ was constituted. The minutes of their first conference began: “We the Baptist Church of Christ as we hope at the Lake…” Today that church is called the Lake Primitive Baptist Church. There were 18 charter members. They were Thomas Greene, John Dickson, Hezekiah Bowen, Ceng Dickson, Nancy Green, Mary Mercer, Sarah Douberly, Martha Collins, John Green, John Collins, Elizabeth Green, Sarah (a woman of color), Barbary Wills, Veanis (a woman of color), Nancy Cussey, George Pike, Rylie Mercer and Lucy (a woman of color). The church’s first pastor was Elder Robert Donaldson. James Collins was elected as the first clerk, and Abner Stubbs was ordained the first deacon.
After the log building was demolished by a hurricane in the early 1830’s, the members and friends of the church built the present structure. It was dedicated on April 5, 1839. The meeting house stands on a bluff overlooking the lake on the Fifteen Mile Creek, now in Candler Co., Georgia, 3 miles east of Metter. Built of virgin pine, the church’s structure is in the simple rectangular style of the early meeting houses. Throughout the years, additions and structural changes have been made. In the December church conference of 1880, a building committee was named, given them “power to manage as they see proper about the building.” Members of this committee were L. Cartee, A. Trapnell, A. Franklin, Madison Warren and D.L. Kennedy. This committee moved the front entrance from the south side of the building to the east side. The full width porch with Doric columns was added. The interior was rearranged, moving the pulpit from the center of the north wall to the west, facing the entrance.
A committee was named in the October 1942 conference to add a baptismal pool. They were BT Atwood, Paul Edenfield and George O. Franklin, Sr. The pool was installed directly behind the pulpit area. In 1946, a new wood floor was laid, using the original wide planked floor as a sub-floor. The committee supervising this project was George O. Franklin, Sr. L.J. Holloway and B.T. Atwood. The original pine board walls and ceiling have been covered with sheet rock and celotex. A cement block annex, housing a kitchen and dining room, was added in 1969. Members and friends of the church constructed the annex.
Through the years, the church has had a caring membership. It is well preserved and lovingly cared for. The Lake Church is the “Mother Church” to the Metter Primitive Baptist church. On Saturday before the first Sunday in July 1900, the Lake Church granted letters of recommendation to interested persons to constitute a church in Metter. From he beginning when Elders Jordan Smith, Abram Joyner, and Robert Donaldson examined the church covenant and constituted her a church of Jesus Christ, until now, the Lake Primitive Church has stood as “The House of God; the pillar and ground of the truth.” Her present pastor is Elder Gerald Proctor. Her present membership numbers 44.”
The architecture of the church is simple but also dramatic. The covered porch is welcoming as you mount the stairs and enter the sanctuary. The structure was constructed in 1839 to replace the 1823 original log sanctuary that was destroyed in a hurricane. In 1880 the building committee redesigned the sanctuary and added that large porch on the east side of the building. The previous main entry had been on the south side of the building.
This, is our first interior shot of the sanctuary at Lake. We are facing the east wall and looking at one of the open doors. We are standing where the original chancel and pulpit were located before the 1880 rearranging mentioned earlier. As you can see, this building is quite large and filled with period pews. The original pine board walls and ceiling have been covered with sheet rock and Celotex.
This is a view of the piano and choir area, chancel, pulpit, apse and south wall. In keeping with Primitive Baptist tenets, simplicity is strived for. Just a few decorative elements can be seen and all the furniture is modest and simple. The far window is in the south wall and the choir pews can be seen.
In this photo we are standing in the chancel and looking into a very lovely apse area. We were touched by the tranquil scene of the river, the green trees and grassy banks. Certainly this is an appropriate decorative feature for Lake Primitive Baptist.
This is another view toward the main entrance on the east side of the building. The view is that of the outside porch overlooking the large cemetery.
There are over a dozen, clear glass paned windows, some small but most large, throughout the sanctuary. These two are between the entry doors and provide much ambient light for this area and the Ten Commandants Plaque hanging therein.
To insure the comfort of the choir, the pews in that area all have soft padding. Here a Hymnal rests in anticipation of the next event. Lake has a very active congregation.
The wide covered porch with an original pew is an excellent place to relax and take in the scenery. It overlooks a beautiful rural countryside and a huge cemetery with almost 4,000 interments.
Senia Smith Dixon was born August 6, 1813 and died June 10, 1888. She married John Dixon (1808-1850) on August 30, 1831. Census records show he was a farmer. Their son Mitchell (1836-1907) and their son Michael (1840-1908) both served in the 47th Georgia Regiment, CSA. Both sons are buried at Lake Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. Senia and John also had other children buried at Lake Primitive Baptist Church cemetery.
The photo gives you a sense of the large cemetery that serves six different churches and the rural communities nearby. This is one of the largest rural cemeteries that we have seen, with almost 4,000 interments. It is not only large, it is well maintained as is the church and grounds.
William M. Green was born January 18, 1854 and died February 19, 1899. He married Anna America Bird/Byrd (1954-1893) on November 5, 1874 in Emanuel County, Georgia. The 1880 Bulloch County census gives his occupation as farmer. He is listed as age 27, America, age 24, Charles, age 4, Jane, age 3 and Ramon, age 11 months. William M. Green was the son of John William Green (1809-1883) and Sarah Ann Beasley Greene (1819-1908) mentioned above.
Sarah Ann Beasley Greene was born April 7, 1819 and died January 28, 1908. She was the second wife of John William Greene (1809-1883). In his will he left Sarah Ann 300 acres of land, 20 head of sheep, 20 head of cattle, 20 head of hogs, 1 horse, saddle, horse cart, and gear and all household and kitchen furniture belonging to and used on his plantation.
Sophronia Holloway Warren was born December 31, 1844 and died December 3, 1911. Her husband Henry “Madison” Warren (1844-1911) is also buried at Lake Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. Also buried there is her father William Bird Holloway (1805-1880). The obituary for Henry “Madison” Warren states “both became ill at about the same time, both starting with severe colds, which complicated with other ailments.”Sophronia and her husband died 15 days apart.
Isaiah Parrish was born August 27, 1843 and died January 10, 1928. He was married to Sarah Elizabeth Bland Parrish (1849-1910). He served in Company I, 9th Georgia Regiment, CSA. He was wounded near the close of the war near Petersburg, Virginia. In 1900, Sarah had given birth to 8 children with 7 still living. She died of appendicitis. Both of her parents, Timothy Bland (1823-1893) and Jane “Jincy” Parrish Bland (1827-1908) are buried at Lake Primitive Baptist Church cemetery.
John Turner was born Octoer 21, 1843 and died March 3, 1928. He married Jincy Collins October 7, 1869. She was born November 27, 1851 and died November 7, 1934. They had at least twelve children. John Turner was the son of Isaac Turner and Lovedie Johnson. He served in Company C, 47th Georgia Infantry, CSA. He had two brothers killed in the Civil War. Abisha Turner died December 2, 1863 at Marietta, Georgia and Jackson Turner died August 28, 1862 at Manassas.
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