CCBC Pastors

Rev. Littleton Meeks and
Rev. Wllm Wellborn 1836-1839
Rev. John Suggs 1839-1851
Elder Singleton Sisk 1851-1859
Rev. J. T. Woodall 1860-1876
Records missing 1877-1901
Rev. W. L. Barrett 1902-1903
Rev. Solomon Free 1903-1904
Rev. W. G. Brewer 1904-1905
Rev. W. L. Barrett 1905-1906
Rev. J. A. Crow 1906-1909
Rev. W. J. Brewer 1909-1910
Rev. W. L. Barrett 1910-1918
Rev. Albert Pless 1919-1924
Rev. Linsy Garner 1924-1928
Rev. B. H. Rich 1928-1931
Rev. Austin Crunkleton 1931-35
Rev. M. A. Love 1935-1936
Rev. Albert Pless 1936-1937
Rev. Austin Crunkleton 1937-43
Rev. Joe E. Brown 1943-1945
Rev. E. R. Brady 1946-1953
Rev. Lloyd Jarrard 1953-1956
Rev. Charles Masters 1956-1963
Rev. Marlowe Stroup 1963-1966
Rev. Sam Ragan 1966-1973
Rev. Walter Burrell 1973-1981
Rev. Lamar Ingle 1981-1986
Dr. Harry Rudasill 1986-2008
Dr. Bill Barrs 2008-2009
Pastor James Lyons 2009-

History of Camp Creek Baptist Church By Micah Chetta The Christian faith has influenced U.S. history. In particular, the Baptists have largely impacted the Southern states, which are known as the Bible belt. Camp Creek Baptist Church in Cornelia, Georgia, represents one of the many fundamental, Bible- believing congregations in the South. On May 24, 1834, Line Church, in the foothills of northeast Georgia, constituted a new church with their sister congregation at Camp Creek. 1 Before Europeans settled the region, it had been home to the Creek and Cherokee Indians. White settlers began appropriating Indian lands in the early nineteenth century while bandits and robbers used the Indian Territory as a safe haven from the law. Eventually, the Cherokees lost their territory, and in 1838, they were forced to journey to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. The European settlers established institutions like churches to stabilize their growing settlements. 2 The sister congregation of the Line Church recognized the need for a well-ordered Gospel assembly at Camp Creek. As a result, a Presbytery met to establish a church and ordain it with ecclesiastical authority based on the New Testament. 3 The roughly twenty charter members of Camp Creek Church unanimously chose, and the presbytery ordained, two deacons during the meeting in 1834. 4 The pastoral office was not addressed until the church conference in January of 1836 where a committee was appointed to recommend a pastor. 5 The first church building was built near its present location and took its name from an adjacent stream. 6 2 Kimzey, Early Genealogical & Historical Records: Habersham County, Georgia. 1-4. In 1802, the Federal government, in a “treaty” with Georgia, agreed to erase Indian land titles within the state; in 1804 the Cherokees sold a portion of their land; and from 1816-1818, they sold all of their territory in Georgia through several treaties. “Treaty regarding Georgia’s western lands, 1802,” <http://vault.georgiaarchives.org/cdm/ref/ collection/adhoc/id/420> (November 10, 2016).; Tim A. Garrison, "Cherokee Removal," New Georgia Encyclopedia. <http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/ history- archaeology/cherokee-removal> (November 10, 2016). The agreement between the State of Georgia and the Jefferson Administration is known as the Compact of 1802. 3 Ibid., 391. The church government had “authority to execute the discipline of the New Testament in receiving, governing & excluding members.” 4 Ibid.; William Meeks and James Brown were ordained deacons. 5 Church History 2 Pages; Church Minutes, Camp Creek Baptist Church; Lack of surviving church records makes it difficult to state who the pastor was until 1839. Rev. Littleton Meeks and Rev. William R. Wellborn, the Moderator and Clerk of the founding church Presbytery, were chosen to form the first pastoral committee. Herbert B. Kimzey, Early Genealogical & Historical Records: Habersham County, Georgia (privately published, 1988), 392-393. The constituting church presbyters included Rev. Littleton Meeks, Rev. J. Davis, Rev. William R. Welborn, John Holcomb, and Henry Davis. Meeks was the Moderator and Welborn the clerk. The church adopted its articles of faith from Baptist doctrine, which began dominating Georgia churches in the nineteenth century. 7 Unusually, Camp Creek retained its orthodoxy and Baptist distinction into the 21 st century. When James Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia in 1733, he brought Baptists with him. In 1784, the Baptists organized the Georgia Association, and in 1822, a body of churches formed, which eventually became the Georgia Baptist Convention 8 . Other Baptist associations were established throughout the state, and Camp Creek began send-ing delegates to the Mountain Baptist Association in 1836. 9 Throughout the 19 th century, church discipline was strictly enforced starting with the pastorate of John Suggs (1839-51). When a member committed an act considered sinful by the church, he would be reported to the congregation at the monthly meeting. Individuals would be appointed by the church to cite the errant member at the next meeting 10 . The offending member would either be restored or expelled, or the matter might be rescheduled for another time. Ultimately, the congregation bore the responsibility to democratically decide the fate of the errant member. 11 6 The church is located between two streams: Camp Creek and Lick Log Creek. 7 Kimzey, p. 392-393. Articles of Faith: “We believe in one only living God, the father, the Son and the holy gost. 2 nd . We believe that the Scriptures of the old and new testament are the word of God and the only rule of faith and practice. 3 rd . We believe the doctrine of election; and that God chose his people in Christ, before the foundation of the world, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth. 4 th . We believe in the doctrine of original sin. 5 th . We believe in man’s impotency to recover Himself from the fallen state he is in by Nature by his own free will and holiness. 6 th . We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the merits by Christ. 7 th . We believe the Saints shall persevere in Grace, and never fall finally away. 8 th . We believe that baptism and the lord’s supper are ordinances of the Jesus Christ and that true believers are the subjects; we believe that the true mode of baptism is by emersion. 9 th . We believe in the resurrection of the dead and general judgment. 10 th . We believe the punishment of the wicked and the days of the righteous will be eternal. 11 th . We believe that no minister has a right to administration of the ordinance only such as are regularly baptized, called and come under the imposition of hands by the presbetary. 12 th . We believe that none but regularly baptized members have a right to commune.” 8 Robert G. Gardner, "Baptists: Overview," New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed September 4, 2016, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/baptists- overview. Camp Creek partnered with churches in the Mountain Baptist Association (MBA), established in 1832 at Mud Creek Church in Habersham County. The first associations were formed in England in the 17 th century among the General Baptists and were precursors of the Baptist conventions. 12 Camp Creek was a member of several asso-ciations from 1835 to 1961, and the church was basically an outgrowth of the MBA. 13 Associations generally scheduled Union meetings, kept records on member churches, and released circular letters on beliefs and practices. An 1846 Association circular described church discipline in detail. Baptist churches like Camp Creek insisted that their members practice moral uprightness and doctrinal orthodoxy and maintain the peace and unity of the body. Members who violated these injunctions were disciplined, but forgiveness and restoration were offered upon repentance. 14 On July 14, 1855, James, Mary and Priscilla Prince, along with James Blair and Rosella Jackson were given letters of dismissal to form a new church at the Hazel Creek school house, which still exists as Hazel Creek Baptist Church to this day 15 . Slaves throughout the 1800s were treated similarly as white members at Camp Creek. They received church fellowship, letters of dismission, discipline, and baptism. 16 On September 12, 1835, Black Joe became the first Negro member at Camp Creek, and before the Civil War, an average of five blacks were listed as members. 17 From 1867-1869, the church, while Rev. J. T. Woodall (1861-1877) was pastor, grew from 99 to 174 members. During that time, Blacks were received in fellowship as usual, but the exclusion of a colored woman for stealing corn in 1866 perhaps indicates racial tensions. 18 The 13 Minutes Mountain Baptist Association; Minutes Liberty Baptist Association Records, Mercer University Library. Macon, GA; Church Minutes. In 1851, the MBA became the Mountain United Baptist Association, and Camp Creek was not listed as a member of the new organization. The church was listed in 1869 as a member of The Liberty Baptist Association that was established the year before. Camp Creek then began sending delegates to the Habersham Baptist Association (HBA) in 1942, and Pastor Sam Ragan (1966-1973) led the church out of HBA in 1969. Lack of records makes it difficult to be precise as to when the church joined The Liberty Baptist Association or the HBA. 14 Minutes Mountain Baptist Association Records: Circular, 22 August 1835. “What offences should become subjects of discipline? Of course all scandalous vices and immorality… The denial of essential article of the Christian faith, and persisting in the error…. When a member denies the essential articles of our faith. With such a person it is impossible to have any spiritual communion, and we out not to with him any visible union…. upon their penitence, and reformation, they should be restored with compassion, love, joy, and gratitude.” 15 Church Minutes. 9 Church Minutes; Minutes Mountain Baptist Association Records, Mercer University Library. Macon, Georgia. 10 Minutes Mountain Baptist Association Records: Circular, Aug. 14, 1846, unpublished ms, Mercer University Library, Macon, GA, Herbert, 394. The church articles of establishment state, “Our regular time of meeting is the Second Sunday and Saturday before every month.” But the meeting times were not consistently kept. 11 Church Minutes. One example of church discipline occurred at Camp Creek on January 7, 1843, when the congregation “Appointed Brethren Windsor and Smith to know if Sister Hames if by hir [her] consent fiddling [?] and dancing is carried on in her house and report to the next meeting.” On February 11, 1843, at the next meeting, the church documentation states, “Sister Hames give [gave] the church satisfaction for the charges against her.” Accordingly, Sister Hames was restored to fellowship. 12 Leon McBeth, “Baptist Beginnings,” The Baptist History & Heritage Society, accessed December 8, 2016, http://www.baptisthistory.org/baptistorigins/baptistbeginnings.h tml; Leonard J. Bill, Baptist in America (NY: Columbia Uni. Press, 2005), 8, 12. 16 Kimzey, p. 412. “Received... and Betsy, a black woman by experience and Elizabeth Ayers by letter…. and the black woman was baptized.” 17 Church Minutes; Kimzey, p. 395. Kimzey calls the slave Black Toby while the church minutes names him Black Joe; Minutes Mountain Baptist Association Records. 18 Kimzey, 446. “Took up a reference against [?], a colored woman for taking corn out of a field which did not belong to her for which she was excluded.” Racial tensions could be considered a weak conclusion. However, the lack of black members at Camp Creek by 1877 and the close proximity to the Civil War allows for it. Also, despite black people having been disciplined in the church, none had been excluded for such a menial action according to church records. 19 Minutes Liberty Baptist Association. 20 “Camp Creek Baptist Church History,” Camp Creek Baptist Church, Cornelia, GA. The building committee perhaps formed after the church potentially burned down. 21 “Camp Creek Baptist Church History.” 22 Minutes Liberty Baptist Association. 23 Minutes Liberty Baptist Association. The first mention in the records of a Sunday School is in 1893, but Camp Creek is not listed as having one until 1906. Sparse records could be misinforming about Camp Creek’s first Sunday School. 24 Church Minutes. 25 Church Minutes. Earlier in 1931, Reverend B. H. Rich preached and moderated the January business meeting but was absent for the February conference. The preceding six months transpired without a church conference before brother Murphy moderated Crunkleton’s election. Due to the lack of records, it is difficult to explain why Pastor Rich was absent from the church. 26 Jamil S. Zainaldin, "Great Depression," New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed September 29, 2016, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history- archaeology/great-depression 27 “David Crunkleton in the 1940 Census,” Ancestry, accessed December 8, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com/1940- census/usa/Georgia/David-Crunkleton_1z0dh2. church membership remained over a hundred until the 20th century, but by 1877, the church no longer had black members. 19 In 1904, Camp Creek almost closed after a meeting was scheduled to dissolve it. The decision was likely caused by the building committee and the leaving of Pastor W. L. Barrett (1902-1903). 20 At the next meeting, the con-gregation did not vote to dissolve the church but continued construction of the church building, which was completed in 1905. 21 That same year, Pastor Barrett returned, and Camp Creek began a Sunday School that had seven teachers and seventy students. 22 The Sunday- School Convention of the Liberty Association in 1904 undoubtedly influenced the church’s decision. 23 The church began electing a Superintendent to run the Sunday School in 1940, and such a position still exists. 24 In September 1931, Austin Crunkleton (1931-1935, 1937-1943) was elected pastor of Camp Creek after Rev. B. H. Rich (1928-1931) left the church. 25 During this period, north-east Georgia suffered from a severe drought as well as the Great Depression. 26 In the 1940 census, Crunkleton listed his occupation as a traveling salesman rather than a pastor. 27 Previous ministers at Camp Creek had been itinerant preachers who were given contributions by their congregations. By 1908, Camp Creek Pastor J. A. Crow (1906-1909) received a salary of $24, which is worth around $2,720 today. 28 Many ministers in the area similarly received little pay, which indicates that pastors were most likely bi-vocational. 29 In 1935, Camp Creek ordained two new deacons to assist in leadership. The ordination of deacons involved a presbytery, an examination, and a charge. 30 Today, Camp Creek no longer ordains deacons, but appoints them. The 28 Minutes Liberty Baptist Association. “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount - 1774 to Present,” MeasuringWorth.com, accessed December 8, 2016. 29 Minutes Liberty Baptist Association.; “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount - 1774 to Present;” Church Minutes. In 1955, Camp Creek voted to raise the pastor’s salary to $25.00 per week, which would be worth $15,300 per year today, and by 1957, the pastor’s salary had been raised to $71.00 per week, which would be worth $39,300 per year today. After World War II, inflation and increased giving resulted in the growth of salary. 30 Church Minutes. Various ministers from other churches attended the ordination, and similar services took place from 1834-1964. As a result, the ordination of deacons must not have been an uncommon tradition in Baptist churches in North Georgia. 31 Church Minutes. 32 Church Minutes. Records indicate that Blair served from 1910- 1935 although missing church records could show that his service was longer. 33 Church Minutes: In 1946, the church fixed the roof and felled trees to obtain wood for Sunday School rooms; in 1947, the church toilets were repaired, brother Ramey donated carpet, and $2.50 was paid per month for house keeping; in 1948, the church added new pillars and bought a new heater, a window sash, and song books. 34 Church Minutes last ordination service was conducted in 1964. 31 During the same year, brother B. H. Blair was recognized as Clerk for life, which was an unusual gesture of gratitude by the church to honor his faithful service. 32 When Blair died in November, 1934, his daughter was elected Clerk, which made her the first female officer at Camp Creek. Following the end of World War II, Camp Creek renovated its building and added additional space. After 1946, the church put greater emphasis on maintenance, and by 1965, the congregation had built a new building while Marlowe Stroup was pastor (1966-1973). 33 The physical change with the building at Camp Creek in the 20 th century overshadowed a different change. In the 19 th century, the church was focused on discipline; while in the modern era, the church shifted to missions and outreach. Both eras emphasized the salvation of sinners, but the modern Camp Creek did not place the same attention to enforcing righteous living. In 1948, after E. R. Brady (1946-1953) replaced Joe E. Brown (1943-1945) as pastor, Camp Creek Missionary Baptist Church dropped “Missionary” from its title. 34 Crunkleton had changed the name in 1931, and it referenced the debate between the Primitive Baptists and the Missionary Baptists. 35 The Primitive Baptists started in the 19 th century, and the group was generally against denominations and mission work. 36 As the debate increased, churches changed their names to indicate which stance they supported. The dropping of “Missionary” by Camp Creek did not indicate a shift in philosophy since the church still sent delegates to the Habersham Baptist Association, but it was probably a sign of a fading issue. In April, 1973, some members of Camp Creek became dissatisfied with the pastor and the church split. Pastor Sam Ragan (1966-1973) and twenty-seven members left to establish Grace Baptist Church, and in May, Rev. Walter Burrell (1973-1981) was elected the new pastor. 37 The division seems to have been the result of a personality conflict rather than a doctrinal dispute. 38 Burrell, being affiliated with Bob Jones University, held an Independent Baptist philosophy and steered the church in that direction. Prior to him, Pastor Stroup (1963-1973) had started the change by pulling the church out of the Habersham Baptist Association. 39 33 Church Minutes: In 1946, the church fixed the roof and felled trees to obtain wood for Sunday School rooms; in 1947, the church toilets were repaired, brother Ramey donated carpet, and $2.50 was paid per month for housekeeping; in 1948, the church added new pillars and bought a new heater, a window sash, and song books. 34 Church Minutes 35 Church Minutes. 36 Bill J. Leonard, 22-23. 40 Marc and Helen Chetta, interview by author, Nov. 22, 2016. 41 Church Minutes; Annual Recap and Progress Report, 2004, Camp Creek Baptist Church. 42 Church Minutes. 43 Marc and Helen Chetta. The increase in attendance was primarily due to large families joining the church. Jean Johnson started the bus ministry in the mid-1990s, which brought Hispanic, Laotian, poor white, and poor African American kids to the children’s ministry. Other ministries included three church plants and financial assistance to various outreach programs. Church fellowship and community outreach programs included revival meetings, teen activities, missionary conferences, Vacation Bible Schools, monthly church meals, and an annual men’s fishing trip. Also, the church was politically active by allowing members to use church buses to attend the annual pro-life marches in Atlanta, GA. 44 Church Minutes, April 24, 2016. During the long pastorate of Dr. Harry Rudasill (1986-2008), Camp Creek experienced significant change in church governance. Traditionally, the pastor had assumed less authority than the deacons, but Dr. Rudasill assumed a more Biblical authority for the pastoral office while maintaining congregational supremacy. Although his changes were successful, it did cause several disgruntled members to leave the congregation. 40 Throughout his tenure, missions became a central focus for the church, and from 1990-2004 Camp Creek increased from 17 to 65 missionaries and mission projects. 41 In 2002, the church ordained and sent forth the Bro. John Burnette family as its first full time missionaries 42 . They are still serving on the foreign field in Tampico, Mexico. Also, the church grew in membership, started a bus ministry and encouraged church fellowship programs and community outreach. 43 Dr. Rudasill had several health problems, and the church assisted him with medical expenses. In 2008, he died from a stroke while on vacation, and Rev. Bill Barrs became the interim pastor (2008-09). James Lyons, elected in 2009, is the current pastor. In 2014, the church’s second missionaries, the Mike Arena family, went to Alaska to work in Christian radio 44 . Recently, Camp Creek has been challenged by social and political changes. For example, the United States Su- preme Court legalized homosexual “marriage” on June 26, 2015. 45 Churches who supported traditional marriage faced possible lawsuits if they refused to allow a homosexual ceremony in their facilities. As a precaution, Camp Creek revised its constitution in 2014 to add a traditional definition of marriage. 46 In 2015, another addition barred individuals with opposing beliefs from 37 Church Minutes.; “Our Pastor,” Grace Baptist Church: Welcome, accessed October 13, 2016, http://www.gbccornelia.com/about_us: the members of Grace Baptist Church built their church building in 1974. 38 William Meeks, interview by author, by telephone, October 13, 2016. The church split developed from vague causes. Meeks, a lifelong member, recalled that certain individuals did not see “eye to eye,” but he was not “100% sure why they left;” Mable McAllister, telephone interview by author, October 2016. Mable believes that the church became upset at Pastor Ragan after he allowed a young lady to give a testimony to the church. Church Minutes; The minutes show that on November 8, 1967, the church approved, during Ragan’s second year as pastor, a motion “to move… services up 30 minutes. Sunday night services from 7:00 to 6:30. Wednesday night services from 7:30 to 7:00….” When Burrell became pastor in 1973, the church approved a motion, the next business meeting after Ragan left, to move the church service times prior to the 1967 change. As a result, one sole issue may not have caused the church to split, but it could have been several factors that contributed to the division. 39 Church Minutes. using the church’s facilities. 47 Pastor Lyons initiated the changes to the constitution after recognizing the shifting political culture. 48 Despite challenges from shifting social and political norms, the church has continued to uphold many of its orthodox Baptist traditions. “Celebrating the Past... Committed to the Future” is the church’s current motto.