Long Cane Baptist
We are fortunate that some history for the old Long Cane church has been handed down. Much of the commentary below is based on it. On March 9, 1829, nine Troup County Baptists and Presbyterians joined forces and, under the leadership of Reverend James Reeves, constituted Long Cane Baptist Church. Sometime between 1834 and 1837, this rapidly burgeoning congregation erected the white sanctuary you see here. Carving wood by hand from pine trees, they placed floorboards and pews one by one. These floorboards and pews have certainly stood the test of time. Although more than 150 years have elapsed since the time of its construction, this original building still serves as the sanctuary for Long Cane Baptist Church.
According to the history, in the very early days the building was the joint property of the Baptists and Presbyterians, who worked and worshiped together for fifty years. In 1887, the Presbyterians withdrew from the old building and erected a new one, changing the name to Loyd Presbyterian. While the sanctuary was perhaps notable for its gallery, constructed to accommodate slaves, the church itself is devoid of ornamentation. Wood burning stoves flanking each side of the sanctuary testified to the congregation’s lack of pretension and devotion to tradition. Remarkably, this unassuming structure would serve their needs for more than a hundred years without significant renovation.
According to the history, the Civil War years were difficult for everyone but especially for the congregants of Long Cane. The church had seen its share of important gatherings over the years, but none was more consequential than the meeting of the Western Association at the church on September 17, 1864. Exactly two years after the Battle of Antietam, the Confederacy still endured but with Atlanta having fallen, and the rest of Georgia rendered virtually defenseless, its prospects looked bleak. Indeed, Sherman’s soldiers had burned many churches in route to West Point and would burn many more. No one could say for certain whether Long Cane Baptist would be next. Many present at Long Cane that day were skeptical as to whether the Association would ever meet again, and they devoted themselves to prayer. The history informs us that their prayers were answered and the church was spared. After the war, in 1866, the Western Association accepted membership of the Colored Baptist Church of LaGrange, but in 1869 a separate association for African American churches was formed. This was a typical pattern as the former slaves began the struggle to come together and form their own identity.
The old church endured for almost 100 years as she was built. Finally, in 1938, church members elected to replace the roof and re-plaster the walls. In the place of a stove chimney they inserted a more modern heating device. As time passed, congregants turned their attention to strengthening the structure’s foundation and aligning it with twentieth century standards. Workers bolstered the pinewood floor with long steel rods and brick pillars. Having accounted for the foundation, congregants now turned their attention to the sagging roof, reinforcing it with two wooden posts embedded in the floor.
Today, Long Cane Baptist stands as a testament to the devotion of a loving congregation. We are grateful for this stewardship. It gives us living testimony of how this community was formed, where it came from and how it has endured….. important history that can be passed along to future generations.