A LANDMARK OF CHRISTIANITY
Richland Baptist Church
On a perfect early autumn Sunday they came. They have been coming to this spot for the last two hundred years. They came this incredible day to celebrate two centuries of worship at a "Landmark of Christianity," Richland Baptist Church in southern Twiggs County, Georgia. They came to celebrate Christ. And, they came to celebrate their heritage, a heritage which keeps them coming back, year after year.
Nancy Faulk Herrington led the congregation in an uplifting version of Holy, Holy, Holy. The Rev. Steve Smith, pastor of Old Richland's successor church, New Richland Baptist Church, gave the opening sermon.
Susan Faulk Burford, President of the Richland Restoration League, Inc., welcomed those present as she presided over the day's ceremonies. The Civil Folks Singers, dressed in 19th Century clothing, serenaded the congregation under the direction of the Rev. Frank Hendrix, Living History Chair of the Restoration League. The league was organized in 1948 to restore the historic church to its holy grandeur.
Glenn Faulk, one of the many descendants of Mark Faulk who gathered at their family church, recognized the pioneer families of the ancient church, which was constituted two centuries ago on October 5, 1811. Faulk said, "This is a special moment in our history, a time we came together as a family." Located near the original county seat of Marion, the commercial and legal center in East Central Georgia from its location in the geographical center of the state during the 1810s through the 1820s.
There were Faulks, Wimberlys, Asbells, Bunns, Minters, Shines, Densons, Glovers, Vaughns and Fitzpatricks. One by one and family by family they stood and proudly recited their descent from their great, greats..., the founding and leading members of the time-honored church.
Robert Schultz remembered coming to the enduring church as a five-year-old boy. Schultz remembered the day in 1948 when the Restoration League first met and he was sitting in the front pew when he called upon to read a scripture. Since that day, Schultz make regular return trips to honor his family and to worship in the circa 1845 church.
And, there was George Faulk sitting in the "Amen Corner." Faulk, a veteran of World War II, was the oldest member of the congregation. Faulk, at ninety four, was born six years after the church closed its doors in 1911.
The descendants of Marmaduke Hart were there too, taking up a good portion of the center sections of the beautifully restored wooden church, at least the ones not filled with Faulks and Wimberlys. It was Marmaduke Hart who gave the land near his springs in the 1820s for the church's second structure.
Earl Hicks and his family were there too. Mr. Hicks recalled the relationship between his family and the Faulk and Wimberly families over the last two centuries, harking back to the day when both whites and blacks worshiped together in the two-story church.
Special musical entertainment was provided by The Wesleyannes, a choral group from Wesleyan University from Macon. Wesleyan is celebrating its 175th year as the world's oldest university for women.
The featured speaker for the day was the Rev. Francis Wilson. Rev. Wilson, a graduate of Cochran High School and Mercer University, spoke of his honor to preach from the pulpit where his grandfather, Rev. F. Bartow Asbell, who gave the last regular sermon in October, 1911 when the church ceased to conduct regular services. Rev. Wilson, a resident of New Mexico, spoke of the honor of having his family and knowing Jesus Christ, but ranked the honor to preach the Gospel standing in the footprints of his grandfather as one of his greatest blessings.
After the benediction of the service by the Rev. Gary Walker, the congregation adjourned to the well-kept grounds of the antebellum church for an old-fashioned dinner on the ground, complete with all kinds of scrumptious foods, including a tasty roasted pig, cooked by Satterfields of Macon.
If you would like more information on the church and the Richland Restoration League, contact Susan Burford at firstname.lastname@example.org, Glenn Faulk at email@example.com or go to the league's website at www.historicrichlandchurch.org.
The League will sponsor its annual "Keeping Christmas at Richland Church" on Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.