History of the Oakland Baptist Church
As we gather here today in Christian fellowship, we are going to take you back to the early 1800’s. When the Providence Church, the forerunner of the Oakland Baptist Church, was founded by Christian men and women seeking to have the Holy Bible taught to them and to have Christian fellowship. This church was located on the Union Ridge, as it was called in the yesteryears, in the vicinity of the Union Schoolhouse. The people followed in the Providence Church until around 1859, when they felt like they needed a new place to worship their Maker and Provider.
This being the starting of the Oakland Baptist Church is the reason why we are here today commemorating it’s founding 100 years ago sometime in 1859. This was at the time when folks enjoyed religion and met to worship their God and have been known to come for many miles to worship together. Some came in wagons, some horseback, and some walked, a buggy being a great luxury. Shoes were also precious in those days. Some of us without a doubt heard our grandparents or great-grandparents tell how the people would carry their shoes until nearing the church, when they would stop and put them on. There were few churches and many miles apart, and the roads were rough and rugged, but after all their trials and exerations to reach the place of worship they were rewarded by words of consolation from the Holy Bible and the beautiful prayers of their pastor.
The first site of the church was on the Old Boone Road, on a three acre tract of land bought from Joseph and Catherine Brett on November 8, 1858 by the trustees of the church; Peter Dorman, Alfred Arrasmith, and Joseph Brett for the sum of fifty-one dollars, but for some reason they decided not to build on this tract but they built on a two acre tract, the site of the church today and as far as we know the very same building. This was given to the church by Alfred Arrasmith and deeded to them August 6, 1862.
Before the church was built Rev. Pascal Todd, pastor of Ten Mile Baptist Church, while on his way to Ten Mile one day was stopped by a lady of this community and asked if he would preach for them. He told her if they would build a platform in the woods and let the people know, he would preach for them on his next trip. When he arrived that morning the platform was waiting and the woods were full of people waiting to hear the gospel. The people then started planning to build a church before cold weather.
A committee of some of the most influential men of the community of that day was appointed to solicit aid and the people most generously responded to the call. This committee as well as we can learn was composed of the following men: Josiah Ellis, Thomas Ellis, Elkanah Crouch, John Crouch, Ben Duncan, David Lily, Alfred Arrasmith, Henry Crouch, Alfred Kemper, Peter Dorman, Joseph Brett and probably many others whose names we were not able to attain.
Mr. William Winters contracted to build the church and with the help of members the church was soon built. The poplar logs sills which are still under the church came off of the Dorman farm and hauled in by a yoke of oxen. These logs were hewn down to size by hand. Rev. Pack Todd cut the first chip out of the logs for the building of the church.
When the church was completed they held a protracted meeting, which lasted for four weeks. During the meeting seventy-five united with the church, with Brother J. A. Lee and Pack Todd holding the meeting.
On April 15, 1867 the three acres of land, which was for the church site, was sold to Jefferson Peak for ninety dollars. It is believed that it was around this time that Oakland Schoolhouse was built, probably with some of the money attained in selling the tract of land. The lumber used in the school was bought from Noah Crouch, the father of our W. P. Crouch.
We were not able to attain anything that happened between the years 1867 to 1902. We do know that the methods of transportation were still wagons, buggies, horseback and walking. There were probably many interesting things that happened during this time but probably one of the most important things was that these men and women as they met on Saturday, Sunday and at night lighting the church with candle or maybe kerosene lights and later on by gas, was teaching our parents and grandparents to humble themselves and to become closer acquainted with their Maker and His Holy Word, the Bible.
Now as we start turning pages again we find on January 1, 1901 that the church sold about an acre of land to W. B. Miller for one dollar and on November 8, 1902 they sold the school to the County School District for the sum of ten dollars by the trustees of the church, being W. R. Searcy and J. B. Kemper. Also in 1902, Alfred Arrasmith with the help of others built the rock wall around the old part of the cemetery.
In 1904 the first Sunday School was organized. The first officers were: Superintendent, W. B. Miller Assistant Superintendent, George Bowie; Secretary, Stanley Searcy; and treasurer, Charlie Miller.
In 1911 they started using printed literature for Sunday School classes.
In October 1917 they bought an organ for the church for seventy dollars.
From October 1918 to February, 1919, there were no church services because of the epidemic of influenza.
In May 1919, the church bought a half-acre tract of land adjacent to the old graveyard from W. B. Miller for fifty dollars for the purposes of expanding the graveyard. Emery Ellis, J. B. Kemper, and O. J. Lindsey were in charge of putting the fence around the new lot.
In July and August 1921, the church was remodeled. The two Sunday School rooms, the arch and entrance of the church and the steeple and the bell were added, also a rock wall and a step was laid in front of the church and a new floor was laid over the old one in preparation of the Ten Mile Association, which was held at Oakland that year.
Between September 19 and October 2, 1921 a revival was held with Brother J. A. Lee as speaker and fifty-five persons united with the church.
On October 12, 1927, with Brother J. A. Lee and Brother Sams leading the service, a group from the church gathered together for services where the Providence Church once stood.
In January, 1934 the Church discontinued services on Saturday.
June 1938 they built the porch on the front of the church, the material being donated by W. P. Crouch. October 1938 the electric lights were installed in the church with Mr. Gaines doing the wiring. December 1938 the church went on half time with services every second and fourth Sunday.
In 1939 and 1940 the church lot was rented to Lawrence Groves for the purpose of raising tobacco, but it first had to be cleared of the locust trees of which half of the wood went to the church.
In the summer of 1946 the basement was dug and a furnace installed.
May 1948 the floors of the church was sanded and finished. July 1948 the cement porch was built by the members of the church headed by W. A. Miller. October 1948 the church adopted the six point rating system for the Sunday School.
March 1952 the church received the lot, donated by Mrs. Bess Bowie for the building of the parsonage. April 1952 work started in the building of the parsonage with Arch Maddox as the contractor. The basement was dug by Fran Lily and Son and work donated to the church. It was wired for electricity by A. W. Miller, the labor and the material donated by him.
June 1956 we held a dedication service for dedicating the parsonage and the burning of the last note.
August 1958 we had a fire in the parsonage caused by a short in the refrigerator. Not too much damage was done, thanks for the alertness of Mr. John Beverly.
As you have no doubt noticed, I haven’t mentioned any of our pastors. I thought it would be better to give you their names all at one time for as far back as 1902:
1902-1914 Z. W. Pigg
1914-1915 W. A. Wilson.
1916-1917 J. M. Fowler
1917 Z. W. Pigg
1917-1918 E. F. Hurd
1918-1919 O. F. Barter
1919-1920 C. T. Clark
1920-1929 J. A. Lee
1930-1931 L. M. Hubert
1931-1932 J. S. Ransdell
1932-1934 W. M. Wilson
1934-1935 Bro Abernathy
1935-1937 Dan Taylor
1938 Wm. McGilebiner
1938-1940 J. A. King
1940-1945 William Smith
1945-1947 Bro. Childress
1947-1950 Ray Alexander
1950-1953 William Foote
1953-1957 Elvin Hensley
1957-1959 Dwayne Reed
1959 Thomas Caldwell
As we look back over the yesteryears of this church, we see where it has come along with the prosperity of the world. We no longer have to ride horseback, in a wagon or buggy, nor do we walk miles in the mud or snow to get to our churches today as our ancestors did. We can jump into our fine sleek automobiles drive about forty miles distance in about an hour where they could only go about five miles in the same time, but with the prosperity the people have forgotten that there is a Higher Power that can give and taketh away as He sees fit.
I have been told more times than once that this church has not been able to hold the people thirsting for Christian fellowship and the word of God. Now we are doing good to have one-third of the seats filled. We of today are rushing around so, trying to keep up with this world that we forget to think of our church, our children’s salvation, and our life after we leave this earthly world.
If we as Americans and Christians would stop and look back over the years as our ancestors came from the Old Country seeking freedom of religion, how many of our men and women have given their lives that we may still have our freedom, and think about our missionaries as they go into the remotest and uncivilized places of the world giving their lives to spread the truth and everlasting Gospel of God, most of us today think it is awful because we should come to Church and Sunday School for two hours on Sunday morning.
As in closing, I would like to read you the Church Covenant. As I read it I wish you would listen closely because it holds a great challenge for all of us.
Having been led, as we believe, by the spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our savior and on profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, one body in Christ.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love, to strive for the advancement of this Church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrine; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, and the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel throughout all nations.
We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions; to religiously educate our children, to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy of speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay.
We more over engage that when we remove from this place, we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s word.
This is a paper (sermon?) that appears to have been read on the occasion of the centennial of the Oakland Baptist Church in 1959. We have a typescript that does not credit an author. If anybody knows who wrote it, we would be happy to give them full credit.