Don't know if you found this or not, but here is a history of Elam that I found. My great, great, great grandfather was Charles Miller and his sons were, James R. Miller (first pastor at Elam) and John R. Miller (the fourth) Charles and his family moved from Hebron to Elam. Another son, Robert R. Miller was my Great, great grandfather. email@example.com
A HISTORY OF ELAM BAPTIST CHURCH
by Mrs. Charles Taylor, 1955
This history of any institution, be it a religious body dedicated
solely toward the upbuilding of God's kingdom on earth, or be it an
organization with some less lofty star by which it charts its course,
includes every item which has interest or importance in connection with
the life and growth of that institution. Some writers assert, as does
Emerson, that the history of any people may be resolved into the
biographies of a few great men; but this statement may hardly be applied
to the history of this church, for a large percentage of its members,
though lowly have been the lot of many, have contributed vastly toward
the product which you visualize today as Elam Church.
In looking over the records of the past hundred years, we are astounded
at the rapidity of growth attained by this body of consecrated men and
women. Though to most of us the word "century" intimates eons of time,
yet it is almost incredible that so many notable achievements could
have been accomplished.
Not so much for the sake of entertainment, but in order that we may
give today tribute to those faithful few who in that time long passed
have made this church possible, first let us turn the pages of time
100 years and follow those devout souls. In accordance with this plan
we read verbatim from page 1 of the church annuals:
"State of Georgia-Emanuel County" (We must remember that Jenkins
County was not at that time created).
"This is to show that we, the undersigned have entered into covenant
with each other to keep house for the Lord to be designated from
the world, first, having given ourselves to the Lord and then to one
another by the will of God.
We, being baptized by emersion then became members of Hebron Church
in the aforesaid county and now have built us an house for the
concerning of ourselves and our children and neighbors to meet in
to worship God in the beauty of holiness; therefore we take our
letter from Hebron and come to Elam to encamp by the waters to be
constituted in church order.
We agree to and covenant with each other to live for the Lord and
each other; to watch over each other - in love to be kindly and
affectionate one toward another; to pray for one another - to stir
up good works - to exort and admonish as duty may require and to
rebuke if need be as the blessed word directs - And the Lord shall
give strength. We also determine to keep a standing minister of the
word of life. We further agree to bear with each other's infirmity
and for this purpose which is before described, we have chosen
Brother Robert Donaldson to act as presbytery to set us apart for
this purpose. We also agree to have a book record to keep in memory
the transactions of this little vine.
The following are we whose names are undersigned;
1. Charles Miller 11. Anthony Bonnell
2. William Miller 12. Stephen Lewis
3. Henry J. Parrish 13. Mallisa Newton
4. William Aaron 14. Nancy Ann Miller
5. Synthia Miller 15. Lidia Cowart
6. Sara Aaron 16. Mary Aycock
7. Cloy Gideon 17. Elizabeth Newton
8. Sina Cowart 18. Judy Kirkland
9. James R, Miller 19. Sara Ann Kirkland
10 Bird L. Newton 20. Martha Lewis
Then follows by first notation; January 10th, 1842.
We being called by the brethren and sisters to assist in a presby-
tery have form them fully in order and orthodox have set them apart
for the purpose above mentioned and have given them hand of fellow-
ship to the church of Christ called Elam in Emanuel County, Georgia.
On completing the orgainzation the conscientious forefathers then
prepared a formal constitution and decorum which was read in
The original Church which was rudely constructed of logs was ably
presided over by the Rev. James R. Miller who with the help of the
other noble brethern sternly assisted the members in the "Straight
and narrow paths of life)". Just how strictly these early church
goers were disciplined can easily be discerned by glancing over
the minutes of the meetings recorded month by month, year in and
year out. One finds him self amused when be reads accounts of the
various slight misdemeanors for which those staunch members were
"excommunicated," (to use the phraseology of the early records).
Quickly do we banish our concealed smiles and mirth when we with
all our polish and sophistication, acknowledge that we as Church
members today would oftentime hesitate to act in twentieth century
mode were we propelled by the sincerity of these consecrated
Again we allow our vision to travel backward "(Even more quickly
than we today travel forward.)" What is this celebration? Surely
it must be some auspicious occasion as we see all modes of
nineteenth century conveyance - nor are dozens of horses tied
to hitching posts, and oxcarts conveniently "parked in the shade of
the scrubby oak trees," but in imagination we can see the imprents
of hobnailed shoes, following the pathway that leads across the
hills, forming a shortcut from the homes of those who lived within
walking distance of the church nor do we mean to imply that the
distance was merely a matter of a few hundred feet as the term
would today suggest. But let us reread the occasion of this
gathering; it is Saturday Conferance day and no member dared miss
four conferences unless he wished to be "expelled" from the church.
Yea it was with fear and trembling that these brethern and sisters
faced various charges against them as portrayed and discussed at
at length in these conferences. These early disciples might well
have adopted the motto of the Northwest Mounted Police for they
surely apprehended each culprit. Should a person guilty of some
misdemeanor fail to present himself in self defence at these
monthly meetings, a committee was appointed and speedily sent on
its way to investigate the case at issue.
Realizing the political and economic set-up in the South prior to
1865 one is not astonished to find that several entries are made
in the church annuals recording the addition of slaves as members
of the church. Never, however did our church clerk state the matter
rudely; these were always listed as "persons of color" - then would
follow the given name of the slave as well as the name of the owner.
We noted, not with surprise that two slaves had run away and joined
Sherman on his March to the Sea. Of course their names were readily
stricken from the church roll.
Most of us have the mistaken idea that church services at Elam have
always been held on the first Sunday of each month. Until July 1851
services were held on the fourth Saturday and Sundays of each; at
that time the meetings were changed to the first Saturday and Sundays.
We note with pride that the founders of our church always proclaimed
a day of fasting and praying on Friday prior to the conference in
which they called a pastor each year. Surely the wonderful work of
these early disciples is self-evident of the power of these meetings.
In the year 1858 we have a record of the first series of protracted
services. It might be of interest to recall that this initial
meeting was held in July. As a result of this meeting, 15 members
were added to the church. So powerful was this meeting that another
protracted in October of the same year.
We have mentioned early conversions taking place at Elam. Now perhaps
it will be of interest to note the name of the person first to be
laid to rest here. Records show that Brother Jonathan Weaver, date
approximately 1860 was the first to be interred in Elam Cemetery.
At present there are approximately 500 markers noting resting places
of the beloved of our church and community. The latest bears the date
April 28, 1955.
Elam has grown to such an extent that in the year 1877 plans were
well under way for a new building to adequately house the now greatly
enlarged band of members. It seems as though this was accomplished
after much difficulty as the original contractor, one E.J. Brown
passed away before completing the ediface. The previous building was
built in 1917 at a cost of approximately $6,000.00.
The earliest records we find of scheduled Sabbath School services
are recorded in the year 1899. At that time Brother James M. Aaron
was elected Sunday School Superintendent.
We would not wish to bring to a close an ecclestiastic history
without giving a list as tribute to those wonderful men who have
so faithfully led this band of members through times of adversity
and perverse circumstances as well as guiding them safely and
admonishing them not to turn from their God in years of plenty.
We pause to pay tribute to these beloved pastors:
James H. Miller - 1842-1858
John H. Cowart - 1858-1877
Joseph A. Scarborough - 1877-1879
John R. Miller - 1879-1881
George W. Smith - 1881-1884
A. R. Rountree - 1884-1888
Jackariah Cowart - 1888-1898
H. G. Edenfield - 1893-1913
O. B. Rushton - 1913-1936
Thornton Williams - 1926-1940
Billy A. Winburn - 1940-1943
Bearing in mind the illustrious examples of our heritage let us
conclude with this thought from that great quaker poet, William
Cullen Bryant, who so forcefully admonishes us thru this poem
"So live that when the summons comes to join that innumerable
caravan which moves to that mysterious realm where each shall
take his chamber in the silent halls of death thou go not, like
the quarry slave at night scourged to his dungeon but sustained
and soothed; by an unfaltering trust in God approaches thy grave
like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies
down to pleasant dreams."
We would like to pause here long enough to mention some changes
made during Rev. Williams' pastorate. Services were changed from
quarter time until half-time and in a short time we had our church
on full-time. On September 20, 1936 a W.M.S. was orgainzed with
28 members. A training Union was also begun during this time.
The pastorium was built during Rev. Williams' pastorate. Rev. L. C.
Allen, 1944-1945, Rev. J. L. Pittman, 1945-1949, Rev. Kenneth Gaskin,
1950-1952, (a building fund was started for the new church) and Rev.
J. Sam Shaw, August, 1952, so ably led us into the remodeling of the
school house. We moved into this present building on February 22,
1953 which is the wonderful sanctuary we have today.
Rev. Hilton C. Garrett served as pastor from Nov. 18, 1956 until
1959. For six months Rev. Cliff Hunnicutt served as pastor. During
his pastorate he had the Sunday School department renovated and
divided the Sunday School into departments. Rev. Lester Cochran
was pastor from 1960-1963. In July of 1964 Rev. Joe F. Stevens
came to Elam as pastor and served until April 30, 1967.
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