|4368 Hartley Bridge Road|
Postal Code: 31216
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
History of New Elim Baptist Church
On April 9, 1858, Josiah Ford gave one acre of land in the Skipperton area of south Bibb Co. to build a private school called Hopewell School. This also served as a "meeting house" or church. Daniel Skipper and William A. Stokes received the deed for the land for a fee of five dollars. As the Methodists folks in the area had no church, the Baptists at Hopewell shared the church on alternate Sundays with the Methodists. Liberty Methodist Church constructed a new building in the late 1800s and Hopewell Baptist Church remained in the old building. A public school was started in the building in 1874. Hopewell School and Meeting House
was constituted as a Baptist Church in 1876 and admitted into the Rehoboth Association in 1876. After Hopewell Church was constituted, John Virden Gordon was the first preacher. The name of the church was changed to ELIM Baptist Church, but was still called Hopewell Church for many years by older members.
On September 29, 1888, the Hopewell Sunday School was organized. It was estimated that between 800 and 1000 people attended the celebration and ate dinner on the grounds. The tables contained enough food for all people in attendance, plus many more, according to the local news
Church records show that shades were purchased for the windows of the building in April 1927. In July of that year, after some discussion, the church voted to purchase a piano at the cost of $145. It was paid for a year later at cost plus $2.25 interest. Mrs. Leila Gentry was the pianist. In August of 1927, revival ran day and night, with Pastor Hanes, assisted by Brother Cole, preaching. Baptisms were held in Herring's pond. Later that year, Brothers Joseph Thomas, N.M. Busbee, Luther Fulwood, and Emmett Stokes were sent as delegates to the Rehoboth Association. The Church sent $4.00 to the Association for minutes and clerk hire; $6.25 for ministerial hire and $6.25 for the orphan's home. The letter to the Association was read and adopted.
The Church agreed to carry insurance on the building in 1930 and decided to adopt the acre plan to plant an acre of crops and give the proceeds to those in need.
Members for 1948 were 184 according to church records.
The Church began a full-time meeting program in the early 1950's when Rev. Guy Atkinson was pastor. One addition, a fellowship hall known as the Britt room, was also added in the early 1950's. It was named after Mr. Curtis Britt, a beloved member of the church and community. A second addition was added later that decade.The first baptistery was installed in 1951 by Mr. J.P. Stokes, Charles Cook, and an unknown man who worked for Mr. J.P. Stokes. In a called conference on November 1, 1953, the church, led by Pastor J.I. Purcell, voted to join the newly organized Macon Association. The church voted 17-5 in favor of leaving Rehoboth Association to join Macon Association.
The first organ was purchased in 1955, with Bernice Willingham as the first organist.The pastorium was built in 1955 on Hartley Bridge Road on the site where the Hartley Bridge Road exit from I-75 now exists. The church purchased 11 acres of land, costing $1200 from Mr. C.C.
Puckett on October 31, 1954. The pastorium was moved to its present location in 1966. The outside of the church was bricked in 1965 and also the name changed from Elim to New
Elim Baptist Church. A new sanctuary and fellowship hall was built in 1973 and the office and hallway remodeled in 1977.
New Elim has seen many dedicated workers, but one of the most visible was Mrs. Leila Gentry who was pianist and organist for 62 years. She died in February 1978 at the age of 77 years; playing the piano until two months before she died. She is the mother of Bernice Willingham.
In 1992, the existing Fellowship Hall, New Sunday School rooms and offices were built. In 1997, a state-of-the-art piano was bought for the sanctuary and the church started a
very successful Awana program. In April 2006, Brother Johnny Baggett, our current Pastor (2011), came to New Elim. During his tenure, a completely new musical program was started and under his leadership, 21 people have been baptized.
Source: Church Pamphlet titled 'History of New Elim Baptist Church' provided by the current church pastor. (Nov. 30, 2011)