yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Brenda Coffman, Alice King, and Bobby Pierce

Mt. Gilead


One hundred years have passed since Mt. Gilead Baptist Church was established in 1879. It has seen ups and downs, happiness and sadness, crying and rejoicing in its membership during the passing of the years. Believing that a look at its past can delight, inspire, and teach us, highlights from its history have been put into this book.

Much of the information has been taken directly from the church minutes, but the minutes before 1928 were lost in a fire. Mr. Jim Pierce was church clerk in 1928 and lived with his father, Mr. Bud Pierce, whose home was destroyed by fire. Information about the years before 1928 is the collected memories of older residents of the community and material taken from the Beech River Association Minutes.

We have tried to be faithfully accurate with the information available to us. However, errors may have crept in as they usually do in things produced by human effort. Some things may have been left out that should have been included, either through oversight or simply because we were not aware of them. In both these areas, we ask to be forgiven.

While the years have brought many changes to the church building and the people that make up the church body, one thing has remained unchanged. That is the purpose for which it was founded so long' ago; namely, that a body of believers might come together to worship God in spitit and truth and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that unbelievers might be pointed to the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. May it ever be thus.

This book is dedicated to those members now deceased who were faithful in prayer, service and attendance through lean years and good years, in order that the purpose of its founding might be accomplished.

The Centennial Committee
Brenda Coffman
Alice King
Bobbie Pierce


From information that has been passed down through the years, it seems that Mt. Gilead Baptist Church was originally Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, located where Lucian and Katherine Cook's house is today. This building was constructed of logs.

Later it was moved to a plot of land donated by Isaac Coffman located adjacent to O'brian Road and Highway 104. This was across the road and to the left of the present site. At that time Mt. Gilead School stood on the site where the present building stands.

Then the church building was one big room, approximately 30 x 40, sealed on the inside and weatherboarded. There were two doors to the outside--a front door and back door--three windows on each side and one window in the back.

Seating capacity of the church was approximately 125 people. They sat on wooden benches with backs that were home-made from poplar. Bud Coffman was one of those who helped to build the benches.

The pulpit was on a small platform at the back of the church. In addition to the benches facing the pulpit, there were some benches facing each side of the pulpit. Customarily, the men sat on these benches on one side of the pulpit, and some of the women sat on the benches on the other side. In the earlier days, there were no benches for the choir.

A cast-iron stove provided heat for the church. Men of the church met together from time to time to cut wood for the stove and whoever arrived first for church services would start the fire and light the coal-oil lamps. These lamps were designed to hang on the wall. An organ provided the music for the church services.

Preaching services were held one weekend each month, with two services, one on Saturday night and one Sunday.

The nursery was a quilt spread on the floor in the back of the church where the children slept during the services.

Each Sunday morning, the church people would know it was time to start to church by hearing Mr. Tom Stratton ring the church bell. He would ring it about twenty minutes before time for the services to begin. This bell was hung in a box-like steeple with open sides four or five feet above the church roof.

Mr. Huey Blackwell remembers hearing it ring as a boy at his old home place.

When the building was torn down in 1926, the bell was lost.

Since much of the transportation was by buggy and horseback, the church provided an "upping block" for the convenience of the ladies. The "upping block" had steps that led to a platform to help ladies to get in and out of their side-saddles.

One of the earliest preachers that people recall is Bro. Ashley Nunnery. Mrs. Beulah Milam remembers her mother, Mrs. Dora Ann Coffman, telling her that in 1891, Bro. Nunnery baptized her and several others in the pond of Miles Coffman, later known as Lonnie Coffman's Pond.

Another preacher was Bro. George West. On Saturday afternoon, he would start for church by horseback, stopping on the way at someone's house for supper. (Much of the time, it was in the home of General Goffman, Mrs. Beulah Milam's father.) After services Saturday night, he would spend the night with one of the church members, and on his way home after church Sunday, he would stop and eat with someone else.

Mrs. Cora Lawrence was baptized in 1902 by Bro. West in a pond belonging to Mr. Lewis Douglas. She recalls being scared at the time that he might drop her because he only had one hand. He had lost the other in a sorghum mill accident.

Another preacher of early times was Bro. John Page. Some recall that he preached for almost nothing, for ‘‘two hard hours at a time.

Bro. Page married Miss Tennie Shelton and her sister, Elvie, to brothers, Wesley and Clentern Burnine, in a double wedding at the old building in 1916. The wedding ceremony was performed outside on the church grounds rather than inside the building.

Mt. Gilead School, which stood on the site where the church stands today, burned sometimes before 1926, and a new school was built across the road, in front of the old church building. While the new school was being constructed, classes were held in the church building. Woodrow Coffman, along with many others, began school in this building.

In 1926 Mt. Gilead decided to build a new church and to build it on the site where the old school building had been. Lonnie and Maggie Pruett Coffman gave the land for the building as long as it remained a church, and if the church dissolved, the land would return to their heirs. No deed, however, was obtained until 1956.

Some of the women of the church felt the men were dragging their feet in getting started on the new building, so they took it upon themselves to tear the old building down. Mrs. Beulah McCaslin remembers helping tear the old building down. Among others who helped were Mrs. Vera Cook, Mrs. Jenny Coffman, and Mrs. Lizzie Pierce. The men didn't approve of the women doing this, and soon went to work getting the new building built.

Men of the church met and cut trees from various farms, one of which belonged to Mr. Haskell Williams. These trees were carried to the sawmill to be sawed into lumber. Under the supervision of a carpenter, the men of the church built the church building. This same building is the auditorium portion of the church we have today.

To raise money for the new church building, some of the church women would ask for donations in the community. Along with money, people donated chickens, eggs, etc., which were sold. Mrs. Lizzie Pierce and Mrs. Jenny Coffman went as far as Milan in a buggy making up money.

Some of the lumber from the old church building was bought by Mr. Lucian Cook's father, Mr. Jim, to use in building a grist mill and grocery store. Cook's Grocery has lumber in it today that came from the old church building.

While the new church was being built, the church met for services in the school building.

The new church was built in much the same fashion as the old--one big room, windows on each side, with a front and back door.

For lighting, however, instead of the old coal oil lamps, new gas lamps were installed. These lamps used white gas, which could only be purchased in Lexington. They furnished light for the church until it was wired for electricity in 1946.

Wood heating was used in the new church, also. Some of those who faithfully performed the task of going early to light the lamps and build a fire were Herschel Pierce, Sr., Ivie Coffman, and Dallas Mills.

Mr. Mills, Mr. Jess Cook and his wife, Vera, were not members of Mt. Gilead but were faithful in service and attendance. They were Methodists.

Further changes to the church building came in 1954 when the church added four Sunday School rooms--two upstairs and 2 downstairs-- to the back of the church. New windows and hardwood floors were put in the auditorium. A new pulpit, built by Herschel Pierce, Sr., was installed.

To finance this, $6000.00 was pledged by members of the church and community. An additional $2000.00 was secured as a bank loan which was repaid in 1956.

Mr. William Long contracted to do this work to improve the church.

The sign in front of the church was erected in 1964. Two years later in 1966, the church was underpenned.

In 1967 Mr. G. W. Harmon and Mr. Dallas Mills were hired to build the Young Adult Sunday School room to the side of the church.

A year later, in 1968, two air conditioners were installed in the windows in the front of the church.

The most extensive remodeling to the church building came in 1974 when the church put in a pump, added bathrooms, enlarged the auditorium, built new Sunday School rooms, installed new carpet, bought new pews, built the baptistry, and bricked the church.

Total cost of the remodeling was $60,000.00, $25,000.00 was borrowed from a local bank, but the note was paid in full ‘in June 1976, less than two years later.

Mr. Jackie Russell was contracted to do this work.

Money for several of the pews, the two pulpit chairs, and the communion table was given in memory or in honor of loved ones by their families or friends.

The parking area of the church was blacktopped in 1975.

The last change to the church building came in the summer of 1977 when the Fellowship Hall was added at the cost of $16,300.00. Construction Products Co. with Mr. Ollie J. James as supt. contracted to do this addition. This room serves many purposes--as a Sunday School classroom, meeting room, for fellowships, Homecomings, etc.

In December of 1977, the Fellowship Hall was dedicated in honor of Mr. Ed West McCaslin, who had served the church as a member faithfully for 37 years. He served as a deacon for 26 years and as song leader for 24 years.

The note obtained in building this portion of the church was repaid in full in September 1978.

Changes in both the times and the physical structure of the church building are reflected in the change of the property value through the years. In 1897, the church property was valued at $400.00. In 1917, it was valued at $200.00, and in 1925, it was valued at $175.00.

In 1926, when the new church was built, it was valued at $1500.00, then its value dropped to $1000.00 in 1929. In 1937, the value was still $1000.00, then the value moved to $6000.00, then $7000.00. In 1975, after the last major remodeling, it was valued at $60,000.00 and today our church is valued at $85,000.00 and is totally free of debt.


In the earlier days people placed their offerings on the communion table and the preacher got all of the offerings, which was very little. For instance, in 1932, the collection for one service was $1.37.

The church was still meeting on Saturday night and Sunday once a month for preaching services and an offering was taken at each of these services.

Even though the preachers did not get much money, they were well fed and provided with a place to sleep on Saturday night by people of the church. Other things such as vegetables, chickens, meat, etc. were also given to the preacher by the church people.

When the church needed money for other things, someone would make it up through the members of the church and community. The minute book for September, 1952 states, "the church had a collection for wood and light bill."

It was about this time (sometime around 1951-52) that the church began having preaching services two Sundays each month instead of only one weekend a month. Bro. Elmo Blakney was pastor.

This practice continued until October 1963 when preaching services every Sunday were begun under the leadership of a new pastor, Bro. James Spain.

Around 1960 the church began paying three-fourths of the collection to the preacher and keeping one-fourth for the needs of the church. Up until this time, the operating expenses of the church were met from the Sunday School treasury or special offerings.

It was not until 1973 that the church began paying the pastor a set salary, which at that time was $100.00 per week.

One person was elected to perform the duties of both church clerk and church treasurer until 1975, when the offices were separated. Mr. Jimmy Wite was elected to the office of church treasurer at that time and is still serving in that capacity today.

Through the years, Mt. Gilead has shared its financial means as well as its spiritual blessings. It has been a regular contributor to the cerebral palsy and cancer funds, and to families who have been burned out or had long illnesses.

Within the denomination it has contributed regularly to Union University.

The church has given annually to the Children's Home almost since the beginning of the church. In 1895, the Beech River Minutes note that the church gave $1.00 to the Orphan's Home.

In 1974 the church helped sponsor a boy from the Baptist Children's Home in Memphis. He spent some of his vacations and holidays with the J. T. Harper family. Other families in our church who opened their homes to boys from the Baptist Children's Home were the families of Jerry Essary and Jimmy Kee.

In 1976, the church voted to pay 5% of its income each month through the Cooperative Program to missions. Later this 5% was divided to 2½% through the Cooperative Program and 2½% to Beech River Association Missions.

In 1978 the percentage was raised to 10%, 5% of which was given through the Cooperative Program to missions and 5% to the Beech River Associational Missions.

After the organization of the Woman's Missionary Union in 1974, the church has also been participating in the special mission offerings taken by Baptists each year, all of which go directly to that specific mission effort. These are the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for Home Missions, Mother's Day Children's Home Offering, Golden State Missions Offering (State Missions in Tennessee), and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions.

The church has also made contributions to the Beech River Memorial, Honor, & Trust Fund in honor of Brother James Spain, and in memory of Brother Elmus Flowers.


Music, both vocal and instrumental, has always been an important part of worship at Mt. Gilead. In earliest times, an organ provided the music for the church services. Various ones played the organ and led the singing. Those remembered by some are Mrs. Fannie Coffman Herron, who played the organ; and Mr. Tom Stratton and Mr. Otis Cook, who led the singing.

The organ was used until 1947, when the church bought a piano. In 1974 this was replaced by a new piano purchased from a fund originated by the Young Adult Sunday School Class for that purpose and contributed to by others. The old piano was purchased by Mrs. Bea Coffman.

Piano players through the years have been Mr. Felix Ivy, Miss Oleta Jones, Mrs. Laylor Stanford, Mrs. Wilma Bolen, Mrs. Judy Kirk Robinson, Mrs. Debbie Britt, and Mrs. Beth White.

Another song leader through the years was Mr. Herschel Pierce, Sr., who began leading the singing in 1926, at the age of 16. He continued leading until 1954, for a total of 28 years. Mr. Ed West McCaslin was elected as song leader in 1954, and served in that capacity until his death in 1978. Mr. Jerry Essary has been serving as song leader since that time.

One person who has for years supplied as song leader in the absence of the regular one is Mr. Charles Blankenship.

Mt. Gilead has an excellent choir, made up of volunteers among the members and visitors. Anyone from the congregation who wishes to may sing in the choir at anytime.

Thirty minutes at the beginning of each Sunday night service is given over to singing, which is thoroughly enjoyed by all, the church body.

At various times we have had an active Junior choir and Youth Choir. Both choirs have sung at places other than our church, such as nursing homes, benefit singings, and other churches.

At Christmas, a group of all ages go Christmas caroling each year, primarily to the homes of the shut-in and aged. All who participate say it is a most rewarding experience.


A Sunday School has always been a part of Mt. Gilead. The first mention of Mt. Gilead having Sunday School is in the Beech River Minutes of 1895.

In the early years, however, when preaching services were held one weekend a month, attendance on the other Sundays sometimes would be so low that, for a time, no Sunday School would be held. A faithful few kept coming, though, and today we have a Sunday School Department of which we are very proud.

In the minutes of the church, it states that a Sunday School was re-organized in 1936 with Mr. Bud Pierce elected as Superintendent and Mrs. Howard Waller as Sunday School Clerk.

The earliest class groups, as far as can be determined, consisted of Card Class, Primaries, Juniors, Young People, and Adults. With no classrooms to meet in, the classes all met in the auditorium, grouping off in corners.

In 1968 the Young People's Class had grown so large that an Intermediate Class was begun for the younger ages in the group. The make-up of ages in the class had changed again by 1972, to such an extent that this class was no longer needed and was discontinued.

Today, we again have a fairly large group of Young People who take an active part in the church.

A class for Young Adults was begun in 1972 with Mr. Howard Coffman and Mr. Billy Kelly as teachers. It was this group who was responsible for securing a new piano for the church after the major remodeling in 1974.

A class for women was begun in 1976 with Mrs. Bobbie Pierce and Mrs. Lorene Jordan as teachers.

The last change in class make-up came in 1978 when the pre-school group was divided into the Nursery Department for under three, and the Beginner Department for three through five years of age.

The Sunday School had a clerk separate from the church clerk until 1972, when the office of church clerk and Sunday School Clerk was combined. Mrs. Frances Tucker served as Sunday School Clerk for at least 20 years. Others who served as clerk were Mrs. Pauline Stanford Anderson, Mrs. Birdie Williams, Mrs. Howard Waller, and Mrs. Bobbie Pierce.

In 1968 the church organized a Training Union, but it was discontinued a year and half later due to lack of interest. Mr. Wallace Coffman was the Training Union Director.

Woman's Missionary Union was started in 1974 with Mrs. Alice King being elected as director and she serves as WMU Director today.

Mission groups of all ages were organized; the Mission Friends for pre-schoolers Girls in Action (GA's) for girls ages 6-11; and Acteens for girls ages 12-17.

Leaders who have worked with these groups are: Sue Smith, Janet Jowers, Sharon James, Brenda McMinn, Linda Cook, Gloria Wood, Colleen Kee, Ann Kirk, Mary Gossett, Joel James, Gail Essary, Judy Meals, Jolene Mills, Donna Kelly, Brenda Coffman, Lorrie Kirk,

Peggy Anderson, Joy Chumney, Alice King, and Bobbie Pierce.

Also, with Mr. Jimmy Kee as Brotherhood Director, mission groups for boys were organized. Working with these boys have been Paul Gaston, Jimmy Kee, Wendell James, Gregg Stanford, John Ross, Tina Pierce, and Angela Neisler.

Since the WMU was organized, our financial aid to missions has increased from $333.00 in 1973 to over $2400.00 in 1978.


Various special events are observed during the year at Mt. Gilead. One such event observed every year is revival time, referred to as "big meeting" in 1932 minutes.

Only one revival a year (usually the second week in August) was held until 1953. The community always looked forward to the revival meeting time and the house would be filled, with people standing on the outside.

A few years, revivals were held in tents because there was not enough room in the building. People came in wagons, and brought quilts for children to sleep on during services.

Preaching service were longer then, and the building was not air conditioned. Doors and windows were lift open, and bugs and mosquitos would come and go at will especially during the night meeting hours.

Until recent years, morning services were held during the revival. In the earlier years, school would dismiss and all the children and teachers would come across the road for the services. This recess from school was a treat for the children.

Mrs. Beulah Milam remembers as a small girl how busy life was during revival time. Revival time coincided with the time of year to "save fodder." She said they would work in the fields until time for morning services, go to church, go back to the fields in the afternoon and work until time for night services. In her words "It was get up, go to the field, strip, go to church, strip, go to work, strip, go to church."

For several years during revival time, Bro. Ernest Wilkins and his wife along with Mrs. Ona Bell Williams would come to lead the singing and play the piano for us. Among others who came some during revivals to lead the singing and play the piano were Mr. Marvin Russell and Mrs. Glynda McPeake Douglas.

The first time the minutes mention a spring revival being held was in 1953. There is no mention of another spring revival in the minutes until 1973, but since then the church has had a spring revival each year.

Cottage prayer meetings were held in the homes of members the week prior to the revivals at one time but [have] been discontinued.

In 1978, the church had a week-end Youth Revival and in 1979 the church held a Bible Conference. This was a week of preaching, with different preachers each night.

Mt. Gilead has baptized her new Christians in several different places through the years. Ponds that belonged to Lewis Douglas, Jim Lawrence, Miles & Lonnie Coffman,________ Anderson and Bud Pierce were used at various times. Other places used were Beech Lake and the Baptistries of Wildersville Baptist Church and Sand Ridge Baptist Church.

In 1974 our own baptistry was installed and Mr. L. V. Coffman at the age of 64, was the first one baptized in it in March of 1975.

Another event observed annually is the Lord's Supper. Observed for a long time during the month of May, the time of observance has been changed to June because so many Decoration Days fall in May.

Miss Dora Pegram was in charge of preparing the Lord's Supper for 52 years, from 1912 until 1965. During this period she moved from the Mt. Gilead Community to Atwood, but left her membership at Mt. Gilead. On the day the Lord's Supper was to be observed, Herschel Pierce Sr. would go to get her and bring her back to the church. Eventually, she had to stop doing this because of her health and the church recognized her long period of faithful service by honoring her with a nice gift.

The church now observes the Lord's Supper the third Sunday in June. Since Miss Pegram retired in 1965, Mrs. Mattie McCaslin has prepared the Lord's Supper for the church.

Another annual event in which Mt. Gilead participates is the Beech River Associational annual meeting. A member of the Beech River Association since before 1890, it has hosted the annual meeting five times--in 1890, 1912, 1924, 1937, and 1954. The associational annual meeting is again scheduled to meet at Mt. Gilead this year.

Two commnts concerning Mt. Gilead's relationship with the association are available from the Beech River Association History and our own church minutes. From the Beech River Association history: "In 1912 missionary rallies were held touching every church in the association beginning at Bible Hill in March and concluding at Mt. Gilead the first Sunday in April." From our own church minutes dated October 10, 1937, this statement: "Our church is very proud the association met with us this year. We feel it has been a blessing to us and helped to strength our church."

One of the highlights of the church year at Mt. Gilead for several years has been the Christmas program. The children of the church present the programs with the aid, participation, and direction of representatives from the other Sunday School Classes.

One of the most meaningful programs presented was a play written by Mrs. Beatrice Coffman. In this play the life of Jesus was portrayed from the book of Genesis all through the Bible, and members from each Sunday School Class participated.

In 1964 the custom of giving gifts to the aged and shut-ins of the community at Christmas was begun and it still continues. A box of assorted fruit, candy, and gum is prepared for each of these individuals at Christmas.

In 1972, when Bro. E. O. Flowers was pastor, Mt. Gilead entered the Christmas parade at Lexington. Bro. Flowers and Mr. Jim Pierce rode in an old 1903 Oldsmobile car owned by Bro. Flowers. During the parade the car stalled. Luckily, it was lined up behind the Rescue Squad who was kind enough to tow them on through the parade.

Another special event which began in 1965 under the supervision of the Beech River Association Superintendent at the time, Bro. Kenneth Sparkman, is our annual Vacation Bible School.

Held each year since then during the summer at night for five days, it is one of the best attended in the county. At the end of the week, a family service is held where the parents may hear the children tell of things they have learned during the week. Also, on the last night there is a weiner roast and hay ride provided for the children.

Entire families have begun coming to Mt. Gilead because their child first attended Bible School and continued to come to other services here.

One special event in which Mt. Gilead has participated at least three times is a Conference on World Missions or "Week of Missions" in which a speaker from a different mission area in our country or in other parts of the world share missions information each night. These conferences were held at Mt. Gilead in 1968, 1973, and 1978.

An annual special event observed since 1969 on the first Sunday in August is Homecoming. This special day consists of all day services; Sunday School and preaching in the morning, "dinner on the ground," and a singing in the afternoon.

Church camp has been a special summer event for many of the children of Mt. Gilead since 1973, when the church voted to pay one-half the expense of each child which attended. Mrs. Brenda Coffman assumed the responsibility of sharing information about church camp with the church each year and of sending in the applications of those who attended camp. Some have attended each year since 1973, except for this year.

Another annual event that our Young People look forward to each year is our Youth Evangelism Conference in Nashville. In March of 1977, with Bro. Howell Gossett, who was then pastor, the group attended for the first time. They have attended each year since, and the church underwrites the expense of this trip.

This trip has always been an inspiration to the Young People and has drawn them closer to the Lord. Some have been saved at the conference, and others have been saved later as a result of having attended the conference.

Another event which began this year, under the leadership of Bro. Clayton Joyner, is our Family Day, which was -observed March 18, 1979. This is a day set aside that everyone makes an extra-special effort to get their entire families to church. Perhaps this is the beginning of another fine tradition for Mt. Gilead.


At various times the report to the Beech River Association listed the membership according to how many male and female members the church had. In 1885, membership was listed as 20 males and 65 females; in 1954, 86 males and 184 females. It is interesting to note that although the percentage of female members to the total membership decreased from 767 in 1885 to 687 in 1954, the females still outnumbered the males by more than 2 to 1.

The first woman from Mt. Gilead listed by name in the Beech River Minutes was Mrs. Birdie Pierce Willi8ms. She was listed as Sunday School Clerk in 1918. She was also the first woman elected as a messenger to represent Mt. Gilead at the annual associational meeting. This was in 1925.

The church always elected a man for church clerk up until 1935 when Mrs. Ina Pierce Douglas was elected as church clerk.

Mrs. Douglas served until 1940 when Mrs. Hazel Pierce was elected clerk and she served faithfully as clerk for 32 consecutive years.

Mrs. Brenda Coffman serves as clerk today.

Church minutes from years ago record the entire church service--song titles, who led in prayer, where the Bible message was from, etc.

Some of the women of the church who were mentioned as leading in prayer then are: Mrs. Millard Moore, (Mr. Clarence's mother) Mrs. Lottie Blackwell, Mrs. Velma Welch, (Brenda Walls' grandmother) Mrs. Frances Tucker, Mrs. Mamie Palmer, Mrs. Estelle Blankenship, Mrs. Mattie McCaslin, Mrs. Arthurleen Gateley, Mrs. Mattie Cook, and Mrs. Jahue McCorkle.


A Chairman of Deacons was elected for the first time on March 2, 1977, when the deacon body elected Mr. Herschel Pierce, Sr. to serve as chairman until the church year began in Oct., 1977. Mr. Paul Gaston was elected to serve in 1978, and Mr. Charles Blankenship is serving this present year.

Up until May of 1977, the church had been cleaned on a voluntary basis by various families or women of the church. As people became busier and the church building grew larger, it became difficult t& secure volunteers for this task.

In May, 1977, the church voted to pay someone to clean the church on a regular basis and the Young People's Sunday School Class assumed this responsibility, and they take pride in serving the church in this manner.

In various ways, they have used at least a portion of this money to benefit the church. For example, just this year, a cook stove was purchased by the Young People and installed in the Fellowship Hall in honor of Bro. Howell Gossett and Mrs. Bobbie Pierce, two who had been a great inspiration to this group.

In 1977 the church began a bus ministry with the purchase of a van. Mr. Wendell James and Mr. Gregg Stanford alternate the driving from Sunday to Sunday. The van is used during Vacation Bible School, WMU House-parties, class outings, and other church connected trips.

Several times during the past few years, Mt. Gilead has gone to the Nursing Home in Lexington and conducted services for residents there.

Through the years five men have been ordained as preachers while members at Mt. Gilead. These are: Bro. Cooper Moody, ordained 1939; Bro. Bebe Gourley, Bro. Ben Thetford, 1945; Bro. Jimmy Burroughs, 1974; and Bro. Don McKee, 1977. Two others, Bro. Travis Sanders and Bro. Jessie Lee Kirk were licensed to preach in 1975.

Many members at Mt. Gilead have always been sports-minded. Often times for an activity as a class, members would get together for games of basketball, football, or softball. These games among ourselveswas the extend of our sport activities as a church until the spring of 1977. This is when Mt. Gilead joined the Beech River Baptist Association Softball League. This league included only teams that were made up of Christians representing their home churches.

Prayer before each game became part of Mt. Gilead's routine and soon many churches followed suit with prayer becoming part of the league. One of the rules of the league was that a player could not be included in the roster unless he had been to church the previous two Sundays. This encouraged many youth to attend church; therefore, hearing the message of Christ.

Mt. Gilead has participated in the ball league since then and ending this year in second place. They have played in Independent Tournaments also.

Not only do our people participate in the softball league, but in 1978 joined a basketball league for churches.

Quote from a ball team member, "Our improvement as a team has not overshadowed the fact that team members have grown close as Christian: brothers with a large improvement in attitudes toward winning and losing."

The Young People's Sunday School Class also get together once a month to bowl.


The first pastor that is listed in Beech River Minutes is Bro. D. Hopper. He served at least six years as pastor.

In 1889, the pastor was Bro. Y. H. Tipps. Then in the 1890's, Mt. Gilead had two Bro. Nunnerys, Alonzo and A. U.

In 1900 and 1903, Bro. George West served as pastor. Bro. F. L. Boren served in 1901, then in 1904 and 1905, Bro. William M. Wood was the pastor. Bro. T. M. Newman served in 1911 and 1912.

Bro. John R. Page served nine years as pastor and Bro.W. F. Boren served as pastor in 1919. Then from 1923 until 1928, Bro. W. O. Depriest was pastor.

In 1929, Bro. Richard L. Rogers was pastor, and for the next three years, Bro. Hersey Hopper was pastor.

Then in 1933, a young man, Bro. Walter Asbury Moody, at 19 years of age, was elected pastor. Bro. Moody was ordained to preach at the age of 17 and he seved twelve years as pastor here. In one 5 year span, 1946-50, he baptized 125 people. These were some of the years revivals were held in a tent.

In 1964 he, along with his son Lavaugh, with churches helping to support him financially, had the opportunity of going to Jamacia on a missionary crusade.

He was married to Miss Flossie Britt and his children are: Lavaugh, who is now pastor of a church in Lobelville, Christine, Doris, Donna, Elizabeth and Randy.

Much of the time Bro. Moody brought Christine, then a young girl, with him and she played the piano for services and for funerals he would conduct. Bro. Moody died in 1967 and the Beech River Minutes states "No man ever lived in our midst who traveled more miles, wore out more cars, preached more sermons, conducted more funerals, did more work, and received less for it than W. A. Moody."

Bro. Fred Hurtt served as pastor here for four years and Bro. Elmo Blakney served a little over eight years. Bro. Erby Birch was elected to fill the unexpired year of 1946.

In 1956 and 57, Bro. Onnie Blankenship (1911-1968) was our pastor. He was married to Miss Estelle Sego and their children are Mrs. Betty McCord and Mrs. Carol Burke.

Bro. Jahue McCorkle, born 1918, was pastor in 1958 and 59. He baptized 31 new members in this two year period. He is married to Miss Agnes Pomeroy and has one son, James. Today he is pastor of Union Hill.

Bro. Connie Burton served as pastor during 1962. He is married to Miss Ernestine Maness and has one son, Gregg. Today he is pastor of Cedar Hill and New Liberty Baptist Churches.

Bro. Mitchell Rayburn served during 1963 as our pastor.

In 1964, Bro. James Spain, born 1914, was elected and served for the next eight years as pastor. This is the longest consecutive period that anyone has ever served as pastor. Immediately after he was elected, the church voted to have services each Sunday instead of twice a month. Mt. Gilead organized their first Vacation Bible School the second year Bro. Spain was pastor.

He was married to Miss Opal Waller, who died in 1974. He is now married to Onila Hampton. He has two sons, James Herbert and Donald Wayne.

Three months is the shortest time any minister has served as pastor. Bro. Elrnus O. Flowers was elected as pastor in October of 1972 and was killed in an auto accident on January 23, 1973. Though his time as pastor was tragically brief, his impact on Mt. Gilead was lasting.

It was during his time as pastor that every fifth Sunday was designated as Youth Sunday. On this day, the Young People are responsible for teaching or securing someone to teach the various classes, for singing in the choir, acting as ushers, and inviting someone to preach.

During his term as pastor the custom of recognizing those with birthdays and anniversaries was also begun. He had plans for other things including a Youth Revival, but was prevented from carrying them through due to his untimely death. A Youth Revival has been held since then, however.

He was married to Miss Imogene Hill and his children are Jeff, Phil, and _____.

After Bro. Flowers died in January, we were without a pastor until June, when Bro. George McMinn was elected. He was our pastor for 3½ years and during this time, 66 people were baptized into our membership. He was our pastor during our major building program, and it was during this time the church voted to pay 5% of its income to missions.

Bro. Jimmy Burroughs was ordanied to preach and the church had cottage prayer meetings a week prior to our revivals.

Bro. McMinn is married to Miss Brenda Bray and their children are Tammy, Gregg, Mike, & Brent.

Bro. Howell Gossett was elected in December 1976, and served until May 1978. During this time, our church added 21 new Christians by baptism; the Fellowship Hall was built and dedicated; Youth Convention was first attended; Bus Ministry began; Chairman of Deacons was elected for the first time, and Bro. Don McKee was ordained to preach.

Bro. Gossett is married to Miss Mary Wood and their children are Vickie, Gail, Johnny, Jeff, & Todd. He serves as pastor today at Second Baptist Church in Savannah.

Bro. Clayton Joyner was elected in October, 1978, and is our present pastor. Under Bro.

Joyner's leadership, Mt. Gilead sponsored a Bible Conference this year, and Family Day began.

He was born in 1931 and is married to Miss Lois Vinson and their children are Mrs. Patricia Faye Mullinax, Mrs. Cynthia Denise Grant, Mrs. Melva Lynn

Akins, and Mrs. Mary Beth Hays.


We have listed the deacons people remember and our present deacons. We could not find who the earlier ones were.

SAM McCOY (Grandfather of Seaton McCoy)

JOHN UTLEY, served also as messenger to association in 1912, as Sunday School Supt. in 1917, and as church clerk in 1925.

JIM COOK (1875-1931), married to Miss Callie Williams and had one son, Lucian T.

S. L. (Bud) PIERCE (1872-1950), served as Sunday School Supt. 2 years, messenger 14 years. He was married to Miss Lizzie West and their children are:

Buren, who until his death was a Baptist preacher; Julian, Jim, Herschel, Mrs. Beulah McCaslin, Mrs. Birdie Williams, and Mrs. Ina Douglas.

W. HARLEY STANFORD (1894-1960) ordained in 1931, served 9 years as messenger to the association. He was married to Miss Clara McAlexander and she died in 1920, and he married Miss Lou Hunley. His children are: Virgil, Thomas, Earl, Loyd, Jessie, Mrs. Pauline Anderson, Mrs. Hattie Joe Courley, and Mrs. Mary Ruth Smith.

CLARENCE MOORE, born 1899, ordained in 1931, served 9 years as messenger. He is married to Miss Lexie Singleton and their children are: Mrs. Rachel Fesmire, Mrs. Machel Long, and Ossie Vay.

HERSCHEL ELMER PIERCE, SR., ordained in 1931, at the age of 21, served as Sunday School Supt. 7 years; taught Sunday School; Song Leader for 28 years; served 7 years as a messenger to the association; First to serve as Chairman of Deacons. He is married to Miss Hazel Price and their children are Mrs. Alva Jordan and Herschel, Jr.

FRED LEMONS (1873-1943) ordained 1932, served as Sunday School Supt. 2 years, messenger for 2 years. He was married to Miss Sarah Ann Cook.

JIM LAWRENCE (1885-1953) ordained 1945, served as church clerk for 5 years. Hewas married to Miss Cora Coffman, and their children are Mrs. Louise Jordan, Mrs. Joe Reba Gourley, and Mrs. Byrd Jordan.

FRANCIS IVIE COFFMAN (1886-1950) ordained 1945, served as Sunday School Supt 7 years, messenger for 7 years. He was married to Miss Sallie Rainey and their children are:

Henry, Woodrow, Mrs. Willie Moore, Mrs. Hazel Meals, Mrs. Arthurleen Gateley, Mrs. Voncille Moore, and Miss Agnes Coffman.

ED WEST McCASLIN (1920-1978), ordained 1952, served as song leader for 24 years. He was married to Miss Mattie Sanders and their children are Ronald, Donald, and Mrs. Debbie Britt.

WILLIAM LONG, ordained 1952 and served until he moved his membership to Milan. He served 5 years as messenger. He is married to Miss Machel Moore and has one son, Paul. LOFTON EUGENE GATELEY (1920-1970), ordained in 1964, served in l954 as messenger. He was married to Miss Arthurleen Coffman and had two sons, Billy and Gary.

JAMES MARTIN (Jim) PIERCE, born 1900, ordained 1964, served as Sunday School Supt. 15 years, taught Sunday School, messenger for 15 years, and in 1978 was elected to serve on Executive Board of the Association. He married Miss Roberta Douglas, who died in 1924, and he married Miss Marie Douglas. Their children are: Robert Lewis, Mrs. Dorothy Marie Unchurch, Mrs. Wilma Bolen, Billy Martin, Jimmy Douglas, Mrs. Barbara Goodman, and Gary.He also served as church clerk.

CHARLES BLANKENSHIP, born 1933, ordained 1964, served as Sunday School Supt., taught Sunday School several years, messenger 3 years, worked in VBS, substitute song leader, currently Chairman of Deacons. He is married to Miss Martha Kirk and has 3 children; Bobby, Randy, & Mrs. Sandra Fry.

BILLY WAYNE KELLY, born 1942, ordained 1974. He has taught Sunday School several years, worked in VBS. He is married to Miss Judy Phillips and their children are Donna and Bill, Jr.

JIMMY HAROLD BURROUGHS, born 1949, ordained Jan. 1974, served as deacon until he was ordained to preach and went to serve as pastor at Ridge Grove Bapt. Church in Sept. 1974. He also served as Supt. He was married to Miss Paulette Wiles who died in 1976. He is now married to Mrs. Diane Moody Melton and he has one son, Dennis. Today he is pastor of Perryville Bapt. Church.

PAUL E. GASTON, born 1942, ordained 1974, has taught Sunday School several years, worked in VBS, and for the past 7 years, served as assistant church clerk. He is married to Miss Linda Essary and they have two sons, Jeff and Gary. He has also served as messenger to the association and worked with RA's.

JERRY FAYE ESSARY, born 1941, ordained 1978, has taught Sunday School several years, served as messenger, elected song leader March 1978, and serves in this capacity today. He is married to Miss Gail Moore and they have two children, Tim and Michele.

CHARLES THROGMORTON, born 1947, ordained 1978, has served as Sunday School teacher for the past two years, served as messenger. He is married to Miss Brenda Flowers and they have two children, Tracy & Stacy.

JAMES LARRY BRITT, born 1948, ordained 1978, taught Sunday School for several years, worked in VBS, served as messenger. He is married to Miss Debbie McCaslin and they have two children, Shane and Holly.

JESSIE NEAL COOK, born 1941, ordained 1978, served as Sunday School teacher, messenger to the association. He is married to Miss Linda James and they have one child, Regina.


Listed below are people who have represented our church during the past one hundred years to the Beech River Association meetings.

F. M. Smith; G. L. Linzy; Isaac Coffmari; D. Hopper; W. H. Smith; G. W. Tipps; Z. Tipps; J. C. Coffman; S. Boswell; Y. H. Tipps; James James; Thomas Burchett; W. T. Peterson; Tom Stratton; T. Woodward; J. M. Hemphill; J. M. Douglass; W. L. Douglas; G. Lawres; C. Coffman; J. W. Puckett; H. C. Coffmam; Fred Lemons; John Utley; James Cook; D. H. Meals; J. E. Peterson; E. N. Lewellen; VelmaA'ruett; Cecil Page; Otis Page; Chas. Boswell; Mr. & Mrs. S. L. Pierce; Carl Rainey; Mr. & Mrs. H. R. Williams; Mr. & Mrs. J. M. Pierce; Ivie Coffman; J. F. Cook; J. R. Page; Mr. & Mrs. J. G. Douglas; W. Harley Stanford; Mr. & Mrs. H. E. Pierce, Sr.; Mr. & Mrs. Clarence Moore; Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Blackwell; Mr.. & Mrs. Huey Blackwell; Walter Brown; Mrs. Mae Sanders; Milton Smith; Mr. & Mrs. Ves Coffman; Ben Thetford; Mr. & Mrs. Bryant Stanford; Mrs. K. C. Jones; Ossie Vay Moore; Mr. & Mrs. James McCaslin; Mrs. Beulah McCaslin; Mrs. L. T. Cook; Miss Pauline Stanford; Mr. & Mrs. William Long; Mr. & Mrs. Horace Kirk; Mr. & Mrs. Loyd Stanford; Mr. Dewey Hunley; Mrs. Lillie Cook; Mr. & Mrs. Coy Tucker; Mrs. Martha Sue Utley; Lofton Gateley; Mrs. Wilma Bolen; Mrs. Mattie McCaslin; Miss Carol Jane McCaslin; Mrs. Mattie Cook; Wayne Blackwell; Jerry Essary; James Mills; Mrs. Virginia Mills, Miss Barbara Mills; Mrs. Mattie Joe Gourley; Mr. & Mrs. Samps McCaslin; Bro. & Mrs. James Spain; Mr. & Mrs. Charles Blankenship; Mrs. Beatrice Coffman; Mr. & Mrs. J. T. Harper; Mr. & Mrsa Herschel Pierce, Jr.; Mr. & Mrs. Paul Gaston; Mrs. Tennie James; Mrs. Alice King; Mr. & Mrs. B. C. Jones; Mr. & Mrs. Terry Kirk; Bro. Howell Gossett; Mr. & Mrs. Neal Cook; Mr. & Mrs. Larry Britt; and Mr. & Mrs. Charles Throgmorton.

[To get this page ready quickly, I have scanned the tables as if they were photographs. I will retype them as tables for better clarity at a later date. David]


During its hundred year history, literally scores of people have called Mt. Gilead their church home at one time or another. It has been home to some for brief periods, for others it has been home for all their Christian life. Some who called it home have moved on to other Baptist churches, some have joined other faiths, some have died. A large portion still call it home--the people who are still members today.

The following listing of people who have at one time been members at Mt. Gilead is as complete as is possible to make it. Since the minutes before 1928 were lost by fire, some of the names of those who were members before then may have been omitted either by oversight or because they failed to have their names re-entered on the church roll for some reason. Many of the names may be unfamiliar, but all those listed have at some time in their life called Mt. Gilead their church home.

John T. Anderson; Mrs. LolitaBoswell; Mrs. Texanna Birchett; W. T. Birchett; Sarah Barr;Lottie Blackwell; Cleophas Blackwell; Paulette Wiles Burroughs; Walter Brown; Nancy Jane Coffman Bush; Taddie Coffman Barr; Charles Boswell; Mrs. Charles Boswell; S. Boswell; Catherine Cook; Manervia Cook; Otis Cook; Robert Cook; Albert Cook; Jim Cook; J. A. Cook; Maggie Cook; Dallas Cook; Lucian T. Cook; John Calhoun Coffman; Mrs. D. C. Coffman; Isaac Coffman; Nancy Coffman; F. I. Coffman; Jennie Coffman; Sarah Coffman; Mrs. L. C. Coffman; J. V. Coffman; Mrs. J. V. Coffman; Sallie Coffman; Claude Coffman; W. L. Cass Coffman; Mariah Tracy Coffman; Rosa Coffman; Fronia Coffman Pendergrass; Cleve Coffman; Betty Coffman Prince; W. H. "Bud" Coffman; John Cary; Mrs. John Cary; Catherine Douglas; Josie Douglas; John Douglas; Nannie Coffman Douglas;

J. N. Douglas; Leo Douglas; W. L. Douglas; Ellis Davidson; Dee Fesmire; E. O. Flowers;Cynda Gateley; Mrs. L. G. Gateley; Lofton Gateley; D. A. Gourley; Mrs. D. A. Gourley; Rachel Stanford Gibson; Green Harris; Carolina Harris; John.Hemphill; Mrs. Mary C. Hemphill; Nannie Huey; Fannie Coffman Herron; Beulah Houston; Raymell Thetford Henderson; Mrs. Fred Hurtt; Bertha Ivy; Felix Ivy; Jim James; Haraan James; Monroe James; Tom James; Jane Branch James; Sid Jordan; Olita Jones; Mrs. Orbie Jones; Jim Lawrence; G. L. Linzy; G. Laures; Fred Lemons; E. N. Lewellen; John Luallen; Nina Kirk; Homer Kirk; Mrs. Homer Kirk; D. H. Meals; Mandy Meals; Flola Meals; Lilly James Meals; Nellie Mills; Alice McCoy Thompson; Sam McCoy; Mrs. Sam McCoy; Sallie Mayo; Seaton McCoy; Margaret Moon; John McCaslin; Samps McCaslin; Velma McCaslin; Ed West McCaslin; Cora Moore; Ossie Vay Moore; Ilexie McKee; Georgia McKee; Mae McAlexander; Joe McDonald; Sue Dean Maness Elvington; Delbert O'brien; Steven Lewis (Bud) Pierce; LizzieWest Pierce; Roberta Douglas Pierce; Sarah Ann Cook Lemons Pierce; Roxey Pruitt; J. E. Peterson; W. T. Peterson; John Page; J. W. Pucket; Ella Poteete; Otis Page; Dora Pegram; Alice Pegram; Wanda Mae Pearson; Kenzie Smith; Matt Smith; Milton Smith; Molly Springer; Otha Springer; J. D. Springer; Hobert Springer; Mae Coffman Sanders; Ida Simington; Molly Stewart; Martha Hinson Stanford; Jessie Stanford; W. Harley Stanford; Elizabeth (Mrs. Dee) Stanford; Tom Stratton; Lou Stratton; F. M. Smith; W. H. Smith; I. W. Smith; Freeman Thompson; Fannie Thomas; Ben Thetford; Willie Thetford; Coy Tucker; Feke Thompson; G. W. Tipps; Z. H. Tipps; Joshie Utley; John Utley; Mrs. L. G. Utley; Miss M. L. Utley; Mrs. Gus Utley; Bonnie Wheeler; Mae Wiles; Evelyn Williamson; Roddie Williams; Janney Walls; Linton Walls; Claudia Douglas Williams; T. Woodward; Edgar Cook; Emmi Cook; Jim Bob Cook; Ina Douglas; Grady Douglas; Fronia Meals; Emma Dee Cook; Birdie Mae Williams; Haskell Williams; Katie Cash; Dudley Cook; Lizzie Cook; Cooper Moody; Roy Pruitt; Cecil McCoy; Mrs. Cecil McCoy; Bebe Gourley; Zelmer Pruitt; Ester Wilson; Ruth Cook; Catherine Tyler; John Dee Springer; Dora Coffman; Henry Coffman; Francis Helen Jones; Dorothy Marie Upchurch; Mattie Joe Gourley; Evelyn McCaslin; Larlue Douglas; Cecil Page; Catherine McCoy; K. C. Jones; Alfred Gourley;Gladys Hunley; Maureen Blackwell; Margaret Volner; Rachel Fesmire; Odell Fesmire; Herbert Springer; Mary Catherine James; Hazel Stanford Gabbard; Alfred Gabbard; Paul Hunely; Brooksie J. Lunley; Marcia Kirk Pierce; Jimmy Pierce; Gaylon McCaslin; Adeline Springer Melton; Shirley Douglas Moffitt; Ortherean Wiles Hamilton; Jo Hunley; William Long; Machel Long; Luther James; Lucille Watkins; Elvis Watkins; Curtis Watkins; Leon Tucker; Hassie Hix; Milton Hix; Frances Springer McDaniel; Clyde Hamilton; Laura Western; Mrs. Johnny Western; Jennette Hopper; Lorene Cook; John Waller; Howard Waller; Everett Lee Cook; Robbie Jean Cook Jordan; Audie Dee Stanford Coffman; Ruby King; Watson Garner; Dorothy Hurt; A. L. Rainey; Nettie Sue Crownover; Mrs. Tom Shelton; Howell Davas; Mrs. Winnie Davas; Will Wiles; Ollie Thompson; Rachel Waller; Bennie Mae Thomas; Lela Cook; Mrs. C. V. Moore; Bill Blackstock; Mr. & Mrs. Dickey; James McCorkle; James Loyd Spain; Opal Waller Spain; Dorothy Jones; Stella Mae Ivy; Peggy Duke; Barbara Pierce Goodman; Ira C. Powers; Barbara Gourley Sparkman; Mr. & Mrs. William Clark; Willie Mae Thompson; Maxine Humphreys; Addie Sue Smith; Olive D. Smith; Maudie B. Coffman; Clois Matheny; Martha Frances Stanford Wheeler; Geraldine James Moore; Carol Bird; Estelle Lovefl; Rachel Gateley Gray; Mildred Meals Collins; Eva Mae Boswell; Helen Anderson Rhodes; Bill Blackstock; Wayne Blackwell; Shirley Burnine Wallace; Etta Coffman Haggard; Ethelene Kirk Cook; Nancy Mills Coffman; Jimmy Burroughs; Sandra Coffman Bartholomew; Willett Coffman; Brenda Kirk Fiddler; Gladys Coffrnan Harmon; Patsy Kirk Kee;


This has been a brief summary of the first one hundred years at Mt. Gilead and it has been a joy to have done this. It gives us a deeper understanding and a greater appreciation for our Christian family. We are thankful for this.

It is the prayer of this centennial committee that at the end of the next one hundred years, our great-great-grandchildren will be observing the bi-centennial of this church and they can look back and be-proud. of their Christian heritage. We pray that all things that happen between now and then will be under the leadership of the HolySpirit.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus. Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded. together for an habitation of. God. through the Spirit.....As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…..But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Ephesians 2:19-22
1 Peter 2:2-5; 9-10

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