The Baptist Church of Christ at Williams Creek was constituted Dec. 22, 1787 at the headwaters of Williams Creek at Little River in that section of Wilkes Co., which became Warren Co., by the Act of 1793. Willis Perry gave the land on which the church was built, just northwest of the present site. During heavy rains, the creek would overflow and flood the cemetery and the land surrounding the church. Sometime in the latter part of the 19th century, the decision was made to relocate the church to it’s present location. Headboards of the earliest cemetery were made of wood or fieldstone and slowly disappeared over time.
According to early church records, there was a split in the leadership of the church in the early 1820s. One faction followed Billington Sanders and the other followed Thomas Rhodes. Sanders led the minority faction and petitioned the Georgia Baptist Association in 1822, bringing charges against Rhodes of a serious nature “affecting his moral character”. In an unusual action, the GBA issued a resolution stating that “the members of Williams Creek, who have connected themselves with said Rhodes, be therefore declared no church, but a disorderly faction. Further that the part of Williams Creek Church who have remained unmoved the said Rhodes, are hereby declared the proper church, and their conduct has the unqualified approbation of this body”. You will be relieved to find that said Rhodes was excommunicated in 1822 but later restored to membership. Shepherding the flock was no easy task in the early 1800’s.
You would never guess that I20 is a short distance away. Williams Creek is a dirt road oasis of peaceful dignity in a world filled filled with cars and people in a hurry.
It is hard to believe that a rural church like this can still have a vibrant congregation after all these years but Williams Creeks is proudly offering salvation and spiritual healing 225 years after its formation in the Georgia backwoods.
A small but dignified place to do the Lord’s work.
As usual in these old church cemeteries, there are many umarked graves and some with just fieldstone markers. Formal gravestones came later when the hard work in the fields created enough wealth to pay for it. There are 134 documented interments with the oldest dated 1834. The most common family name in the cemetery is the Chapman clan.
Cemeteries are such an important part of most rural churches. A constant reminder of the cyle of life. Ashes to ashes – dust to dust.
A spring fed baptismal pool on a wooded hillside in the lee of the church. The sacred ritual of total immersion is integral to the Baptist theology. You can’t help but wonder how many souls were consecrated here in the long history of this storied churc
Your tax-deductible donation to Historic Rural Churches will help keep history alive through digital and physical preservation efforts for Georgia’s rural churches, their history and the communities that support them.
Full Name *
Sign me up for the newsletter!
My mother Marjorie Louise Ray an her sister, Ida were baptized at Williams Creek in the early 1900’s. My grandfather James Robert Ray is buried there along with his first wife Lizzie Thompson Ray and other members of the family.
Where are the minutes of the Williams Creek Baptist Church stored?
Probably at the Tarver Library at Mercer University but I am not sure about that.
I am preparing a book about the Dismukes family who were among the early members of this church. I wondered if I might have permission to use one of the photo on you website in the book. This would of course be attributed in a fashion you may recommend.