History of Everett Springs Baptist Church
The following account of the history of the Everett Springs Baptist Church was originally compiled and written by Ruby Everett (Mrs. F. Lester) Terry for the 100th anniversary of the founding in 1985. It has been amended to include events and names up until the present day.
First, we must tell how the need for a house of worship came about. This wonderful land is located between two towering mountains, Johns Mountain and Horns Mountain, which were named for two Indian Chiefs. They lived on these mountains, overlooking the wide and fertile valley, with Johns Creek winding its way, gathering waters from the many cold and crystal-clear springs as it courses to join the Oostanaula River miles below.
It was at this site, that, in the early 1830’s, the first Indian settlers were driven westward by decree. These parcels of land were divided into sections and offered for homesteading. This was when our forefathers, Elkanah, Hiram, Quinton and Samuel Everett came from Gwinnett County, Georgia, in covered wagons together with their families and possessions, to settle here. They found the spring where deer came to water, and which the Indians had left covered with brush. This place they named Everett Springs. The numbers they drew for homesteads joined each other and stretched from one mountain to the other across the valley.
The first road was a straight lane leading from one home to another beginning at the present Willie F. Lynch place (near Lover’s Lane) going due east to the Andrew Mills place.
Some two miles down the present Old Dalton Road and below the John H. Miller place stood the first house of worship, a large wooden structure built with hand-hewn boards with wooden blinds covering its windows. This building also served as the first community schoolhouse and was known as the “Old Mount Pleasant Church.” In these early days, families were large in number and life was not filled with comforts. Many miles were walked daily, early and late, to attend school at Mount Pleasant.
Following the War of the 1860’s, a Division of Sherman’s Army came down from Chattanooga through this valley and, camping overnight, took what they saw for food for themselves and their horses. People were thankful to be left alive and suffered their losses as they could.
By the 1880’s more families had come to live in Everett Springs; and, in 1877, the first one-room school was built to the right side of the road across from the Grover Cleveland Dew homeplace on an acre of land deeded by Brice and Martha Morris. In 1885, these same generous people gave the land on which the Everett Springs Baptist Church was organized on June 21, 1885. Obie H. Dye and Aspasio Earle donated sufficient timber for building the church, and members of the church prepared the timber along with raising necessary funds for completing the new church.
At the organizational meeting, there were thirty-two (32) charter members present whose names deserve mentioning. They were Obie H. Dye, Sarah Dye, Lowella Dye, Elena Dye, Nancy Hiett, John Floyd Everett, Sarah (Doss) Everett, Henry Taylor, N.E. Taylor, Joseph Flaveous Everett, Euphemia Lynch, Olive Isham, Soloman Everett, J.M. Blaylock, Nellie Crump, Emelia Everett, Charles T. Henson, T. Wilburn Henson, Ada Henson, Emily Henson, Marian Everett, G. Oscar Barnett, Annis Barnett, Z.A. Blaylock, Paul J. House, America House, Cliff J. Metcalf, G.M. Metcalf, Charles Everett, J.L. Roe, Arminda Roe, Sante E. Dew, and C.H. Burton.
The first conference was held on Sunday, June 21, 1885. Rev. William M. Bridges, Rev. J.H. Bridges, Rev. Richard Gaines, and Rev. G.W. Meadows composed the presbytery. Rev. Bridges was elected moderator and Rev. G.W. Meadows was chosen as the first clerk.
The first church was erected due north and in front of the present recreation building, facing the road going north. [editor’s note: The present recreation building is referring to the cement block building used for youth Sunday School.] The best of materials were used; mostly heart pine. The walls were high and inside ceilings were tall and lofty, with windows so high that the light streamed in. To the right and left sides of the pulpit in the back were windows, three on the south side and two on each side of the double front doors. The north side had two windows and a side door up front.
The seats were placed in three sections divided by two aisles, one for the men and the other for the ladies. Upfront, near the pulpit, was a large, unusual looking iron wood stove which was used to heat the structure. On either side of the pulpit were two sets of short benches facing east and west. This was known as the “Amen Corner.”
A special program commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the church was celebrated in June, 1935. The Rev. Richard H. Smith was pastor-in-charge of the morning service with Lemuel Tankersley in charge of special music. Charles (Charlie) Everett gave the opening prayer, Josephine Davidson (Mrs. Julius Caesar) Everett gave the welcome address, Rev. J. Arthur Smith presented the response, Miss Iva Earle read the church history, and Rev. M.L. Keith preached the anniversary sermon.
An afternoon service was conducted with J. Quinton Miller leading the song service, Rev. J. Edd Smith giving the Devotional, and Rev. O.E. Rutland presenting the Anniversary Address.
On Sunday, December 15, 1946, the building of 1885 was completely destroyed by fire. One week later, the members met in the school building to formalize plans for rebuilding the church. Pastor G.W. Silvers brought the message, based on Nehemiah 1:6 ; “Rebuilding the Walls of Jerusalem.” After singing “My Faith Looks up To Thee,” a conference was opened for business and committees were elected.
In order to have more space and improve the road frontage, it was decided to purchase the corner lot which was known as the John Smith place. On this new plot adjoining the church property, ground was broken on May 19, 1947, for the present structure. In January, 1948, the first service was held in the new church. On August 21, 1949, the dedication services were conducted by Rev. J. Arthur Smith. Upon unveiling the cornerstone, many dedicatory remarks and prayers were led by the Rev. John C. Warr. Rev. Warr, on invitation of the church, had been filling the pulpit for some time as Rev. G.W. Silvers had resigned.
During the sixty-three (63) years existence of the new church, God has blessed our church in many untold ways. Additions have been made at two different times. Modern heating, air conditioning, electrical fixtures, new and modern pews and carpeting were added. A new and modern recreation building, complete with fireplace, kitchen and furnishings, was built at the back of the present church building in 1972.
We need to also pause and let our minds wander back to the many precious memories of the members, both young and old, who have passed on, and whose lives and Christ-like faith led many in the right way.
One pastor who helped shape many of our lives was the Rev. J. Arthur Smith. He moved to Everett Springs from Gordon County, Georgia, in the early twenties, to serve our church. Once-a-month services in addition to Saturday evening conferences were held. In 1955, the church went to a fulltime ministry.
Rev. Smith served as Principal at the old school during most of the twenties. This school, established in 1877, was originally housed in a building located behind the present church. Later a wooden structure was built directly behind the brick school, established in 1930, and which still stands today. Rev. Smith later taught in the brick building. The salary for the pastor in 1955 was $58.00 per month. After going fulltime, the salary was raised to $100.00 per month.
By living in our community and teaching our children, “Preacher Smith”, as he was affectionately known, had a two-fold opportunity to guide our young children. Those children today are the older members of the Everett Springs Baptist Church.
One of the recent past Pastors, Rev. F.W. Forrest Lanier, had a profound influence on the congregation; and, during his pastorate, Wayne Robertson from Dalton, joined the church as Music Director.
THE CHURCH STAFF & MINISTRY
The church has had forty-seven pastors including: Rev. S.H. Cates, Rev. Ben J. Hunt, Rev. P.J. Deason, Rev. M.L. Keith, Rev. Eleam Culpepper, Rev. C.L. Conn, Rev. C.E. Bryden, Rev. J.S. Camp, Rev. W.M. Bridges, Rev. W.M. McKenzie, Rev. J.N. Hightower, Rev. Richard H. Smith, Rev. J. Arthur Smith, Rev. W.A. Broome, Rev. G.W. Silvers, Rev. John C. Warr, Rev. Charles Davis, Rev. T.L. Wallace, Rev. Howard Moore, Rev. Harold Elrod, Rev. Lawrence Agan, Rev. Arnold Mount, Rev. Roland Pearce, Rev. Jimmie Whitworth, Rev. Carter Foster, Rev. Gilbert Godfrey, Rev. Edward Holsomback, Rev. W. Forrest Lanier, Rev. Arnold Davis, Rev. Steve Whitman, Rev. Gill Lindsey, Rev. Edward Holsomback, Rev. Steve Whitman, Rev. Ed Holsomback*, Rev. Gil Lindsay, Rev. Arnold Mount, Rev. Tim Baird, Rev. Harold Blackstock*, Rev. Clyde Saunders*, Rev. Steve Gandy, Rev. Bob Skelton*, Rev. Alan Hix*, Rev. Mike Ellis, Rev. Steve Drake, Rev. Brady Cargle*, Rev. David Thornton and currently Rev. Steve Drake.
Many have rendered their talents as Organist and/or Pianist: Janie Ledbetter, Pat (Mrs. Ernest) Burch, Juanita (Mrs. Alton) Everett, Bethy (Mrs. S. Leon) Miller, Nancy (Mrs. Kenneth) Dunagan, Janice (Mrs. Darrell) Everett, Ruth Roberson, Phyllis Williams, Vicky Gandy, Marlene Duke, Jo Ann Pethel and others. Earlier Pianists of the church included Ruby Everett (Mrs. F. Lester) Terry, Varnie Miller, (Mrs. Carl) Holsomback, Ava Dew (Mrs. Jomey A.) Miller and Ella Terry (Mrs. Bishop) Mills.
Ministers of music over the years have included Wayne Roberson, David Mashburn, Pete Culbreth, Lee Burk and Stan Pethel.
At the present time, the church has around two hundred members, of which many are tithers. Three men from the church, Rev. Winston Barton, the late Rev. Harold Ables and Rev. Charles Tate, have been licensed to the ministry.
Money is regularly sent to the Cooperative Program, the Baptist Orphans Home, and to missions. The Men’s Brotherhood group meets monthly and enjoy a morning breakfast.
May each of us be renewed in the spirit and faith of our founding fathers and resolve to continue to carry the torch of Christ willingly and lovingly as did the charter members. Our hope is that in preserving the history of the Everett Springs Baptist Church, generations to follow both born and yet to be born, will come to know what Jesus meant when he said in Matthew 16: 18…
“UPON THIS ROCK, I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH.”