MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
submitted by Harvey Bottoms
The fifth Sunday in June 1851, a presbytery composed of Revs. Glover, Halliburton, Crocker, White, Carey and J. D. Shipman met at David Jordans and organized the China Grove Missionary Baptist Church. The charter members were: Mr. And Mrs. David Jordan, Mr. And Mrs. William B. Jordan and two daughters, Mary and Samantha B., John Bryant, Mr. And Mrs. D. Thompson, R. Norman and Mr. And Mrs. Pascal Bottoms. The last charter member, Samantha Jordan Barton, died September 1913.
The first church building was erected about three miles south of the present location, near Keelys Mill. The church being erected in a grove of china trees was named China Grove. The slaves having followed their masters in immigration, built no separate church, but joined their masters church. The old record gave only the first name of the slaves as Abraham or Jacob.
The church services continued regularly through the war period and being somewhat isolated, the church was not harmed in any way.
About 1861 the church became a member of the Beulah Baptist Association and remained under the jurisdiction thereof until the organization of the Gibson County Association in 1923. It entertained the Beulah Association twice, once in 1877 and again in 1896.
The first building was abandoned and a new one built on the present site in 1868. The land for this site was given by William Pyland. The present church was built in 1896, and it was remodeled in 1943.
Soon after the erection of the building in 1868, a Sunday School was organized. This has been the main activity of the church, although a Womans Missionary Society was organized in 1939.
Those ordained to the ministry by this church are: Revs. E. L. Watson, R. E. Bledsoe and K. L. Moore. Two have been licensed to the ministry but not ordained. They are Brady P. Halliburton, now deceased, and Dallis L. Hill.
It is not definitely known whether the church had a regular pastor the first five years, but from the available records it has had the following pastors in the order named: David Halliburton, J. H. Davis, Michael Flowers, T. W. Noel, David Halliburton (second term), W. T. Bennett, J. J. Green, David Halliburton (third term), A. J. Fawcett, William Gardner, R. A. Coleman, C. C. Hall, W. H. Hughes, T. F. Moore, J. R. Hall, F. L. Du Pont, R. A. Beauchamp, F. A. Waggoner, F. R. Hall (second term), W. B. Clifton, F. W. Mount, W. A. Jordan, A. R. Howse, E. L. Watson, D. B. Jackson, M. E. Ward, C. H. Felts, A. S. Hall, T. R. Stroup, J. T. Barker, Earl Gooch, W. A. Butler, T. O. Phillips. W. A. Butler (second term), D. D. Smothers, Lynn Claybrook, W.C. Agnew, Marvin Miller, C. H. Baldridge, Kester H. Cotton, Hubert Jones, Barclay Newman, J. R. Hamlin, and Paul Isbell, who is the present pastor.
From Gibson County, Past and Present
E. David Halliburton has added an update to this as follows:
(Pastors are) Paul Isbell, Tommy Crocker, H. B. Woodward, J. R. Hamlin (second term) and J. O. Otis Smothers who is the present pastor (1975).
In 1935, while Lynn Claybrook was pastor, Miss Rebecca Ruth Halliburton (now Mrs. Bernard Matthews) prepared and gave this history of the China Grove Church before the Gibson County Association which was meeting that year with the China Grove Church. She is a great-granddaughter of the David Halliburton mentioned above.
When the Gibson County Association met with China Grove Church in 1951, the Centennial year of the church, (Hubert Jones pastor) Mrs. David James Halliburton, widow of the late David J. Halliburton, and whose husband was a grandson of the Reverend David Halliburton, gave the history of the church including the pastors up to that date. At that time she was 78 years old. She was a grand-daughter of William Pyland who gave the land for present location of the church.
Keelys Mill was grist mill located on the Rutherford Fork of the Obion River at a point approximately four miles east north-east of Dyer , Tennessee. The present location of China Grove Church is some five mile east north-east of Rutherford, Tennessee just off of the Rutherford to Bradford highway.
Pastors since 1951 have been included to bring the history up to date this November 4, 1975.
E. David Halliburton
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