Adapted from "History of the Higgston Baptist Church"
[1896 - 1996]

Foreword

As this writer attempts to compile the 100 year history of the Higgston Baptist Church, it is not done without trepidation. This is certainly assuming a tremendous responsibility to a body of baptized believers who have a right to expect a true and accurate account of events as reported.

However, it is impossible to go back to the very beginning and secure many factual details. Therefore, some of the information is based on statements made by members of an older generation who have gone to their reward. Many facts have been ascertained from church records (old and new) and the minutes of the Daniell Baptist Association, and some things have been related as remembered by this writer, other members of the Centennial Committee and the congregation. In each case, the author will try to relate the source of the information.

It is the prayer of the Centennial Committee of the Higgston Baptist Church that this history will be an instrument for preserving the heritage of a great Church.

In 1793 the original map of Montgomery County was laid out and defined by the Senate and House of Representatives of the state of Georgia, which was founded February 12, 1733. The lands west of the rivers that formed the Montgomery County boundary line was designated as Creek Indian Hunting Grounds. It is reported that there were white settlers in the region as early as 1800. The Southeastern section of the state was known for the wire grass and pine trees. Though sparsely settled there are indications that the religious life of the area began with these pioneers. There is no record of formal churches in these earlier years, but there were circuit riders, on horseback, and camp meetings that brought the gospel message to the people.

Original Montgomery County was not fully settled until after the Civil War. In 1859 D. L. Morrison deeded a tract of land, part of a Land Grant, to James Higgs in this locality. Mr. Higgs volunteered his service in the defense of his homeland. He was wounded in the War Between the States and returned home with a peg leg. After the war James Higgs sold a large tract of land to a lumber company in North Carolina. Shortly afterwards sawmills were moved into the county to cut the virgin pine trees that practically covered the area. This had a great impact on the county. Evidently, Mr. Higgs was a visionary and a good business man. It seems he planned for an "ideal" town.

A platte was made including over 100 lots to sell for homes and businesses. Streets and alleys were laid out and donated to the town. He also donated land for a school, a Methodist Church and parsonage, a Baptist Church and land for two Black Churches in the outlying area. The town was originally named Higgstown but was changed by the U. S. Post Office Department to Higgston.

The Higgston Baptist Church was constituted in 1896 under the leadership of Rev. J. Z. Bush who served as its first pastor. The organizational meeting was held in the Higgston school house. It is reported that there were only a few charter members. Those known to be were: Mrs. Lizzie McQueen Allmond, Mrs. J. C. Carpenter, Mr. and Mrs. Benjanin Conner, Mr. and Mrs. David S. McGahee, Mrs. G. W. Smith and Mrs. W. M. Thompson. The new church was received into the Daniell Baptist Association in 1899. Mrs. W. M. (Ella) Thompson taught the first Sunday School classes for the children in her home in Higgston. Mrs. Alice Burch Evans, wife of Dr. W. W. Evans, organized the first Sunbeam Band, and Miss Riscoe Palmer was the church's first organist.

It was not until 1901 that the original Church building was erected on the land donated by Mr. Higgs. It was located on the' lot on which the present Church stands. Lumber for the frame structure was given by Council and Graddy Lumber Mills. Mr. Will Lett donated the first pulpit stand which he made by hand from yellow pine lumber. Though no longer in use, it now stands in the sanctuary. A cabinet, also made by Mr. Lett, is in the back foyer of the Church.

The first wedding was held in the Church when Miss Sadie McGahee and Mr. Charles Frizzelle were united in marriage on October 15, 1915. Miss Jennie Lee Carpenter and Mr. J. O. Brown were married in the Church prior to the worship services July 11, 1916.

Worship services were held in the afternoons on a monthly basis for nearly fifty years. The first Sunday School was reported in 1901 with W. E. Adams as superintendent. There were forty-seven members and five officers. J. D. Wells is listed in the Daniell Baptist Association minutes for 1914. Others that held that position during the first fifty-two years were: B. A. Conner, I. T. McLemore, James O'Brien, Angus McQueen, L.B. McCall and W. A. Holton. According to the associational minutes all of the churches were urged to take produce, feed stuffs, canned goods or clothing for use at the Baxley Children's Home. In our church Mr. L.B. McCall, assisted by Mr. Eschol Dixon were usually in charge of this project in the 40's, 50's and 60's. The farmers and their families were asked to donate one or more pick-up loads of corn for the home. The women provided many canned foods. Mr. McCall and Mr. Dixon and others delivered the produce. There was always a good response!

After the sawmills moved away in the twenties, Higgston almost became a ghost town for a period of time. Naturally this affected the congregation attending the churches. The Methodist closed their doors, but the Baptist Church managed to survive through the lean years. Reportedly, some of the Methodist united with the local church rather than leave the community. When automobiles became a viable means of travel and State Highway 29 was paved through the community, there was a gradual revival of interest in the old town. There were visible signs of progress during and following World War II. New families moved in. Old businesses were revived and some new ones established. It was really an exciting time while the oil wells were being drilled in the vicinity. However, that was short lived - the wells were capped and the rigs were moved away - to Texas or elsewhere.

Attendance at Sunday School and the worship services had been at a low ebb for quite a while but there were faithful members who were dedicated to the cause of Christ that continued to spread the gospel. It seems that the Sunday School dwindled down to one man and a few women and children. Reportedly, it was Mr. L. B. McCall that held the church together during those trying times. He brought his wife, Madena, and four children to the church at the appointed hour whether or not anyone else came. It is said, he was tempted at times to just stay at home and teach his children - instead of coming to the church in the wagon. Mr. Bert, a great Christian, could not bear to see the doors of the Higgston Baptist Church closed. As ironic as it might seem the old church building was upset in the early thirties. When Highway 29 was built the church had to be moved off the right-of-way.

In the middle forties Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Holton, a retired Christian couple, moved from Vidalia to the Higgston community and attended church services. They united with the church in 1947 and began work to help build up the fellowship. Mrs. Holton, a talented pianist and song leader, was definitely an asset to the youth as well as the church. She was also dedicated to missions. Soon after she became a member of the church "Ms. Bessie" was instrumental in getting the Woman's Missionary Union re-organized. Mrs. Holton was elected to serve as the first president. She held this position for ten years. "Ms. Bessie" was a faithful servant of the Lord as long as she lived. Mr. Holton was a good organizer and served in leadership roles soon after he united with the church. He served as Sunday School Superintendent for years, and most will recall he had a timely message from the Bible in Sunday School assembly. As Chairman of the Deacons, he was actively involved in all of the activities of the church. Unfortunately, it was during his tenure in 1958 that some problems arose concerning the purchase and re-sale of a lot on which to build a pastorium as well as the actual building of it in 1960.

Rev. Joseph V. Springer, pastor of Vidalia First Baptist Church, was called to the pastorate at Higgston on June 8, 1947. With afternoon services once a month, he probably thought of it as a mission. Rev. Springer was an energetic middle aged man dedicated to spreading the gospel in this community as well as in Vidalia. With his dynamic personality and outstanding preaching ability, he was able, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, to win many people to the Lord. During the revival in August of 1948 there were twenty-three additions to the church, nineteen baptisms, two by letter and two by statement.

It was also during the pastorate of Rev. Joe Springer that the original frame church building was replaced with a brick structure in 1949. Most likely many members in our congregation remember the old fashioned high ceiling sanctuary with tall windows. The furniture was simple, all handmade, including the slatted pews that were comfortable but ruined many Sunday clothes. Several of the old pews were donated to the Higgston Woman's Club when they were replaced years later with new padded pews. Of course, the older generation remembers the old organ and the pot bellied stove that stood in the center of the sanctuary near the pulpit. Building a new sanctuary seemed to be a big undertaking for a small congregation to some. But it was more of a challenge for the members who were dedicated to the Lord. Men, women and children under the supervision of the pastor, helped with the dismantling and re-building of the church. Monetary donations were made by church members, people in the community and surrounding areas. Building materials were also donated. A Vidalia banker, Mr. M. F. Brice, gave the 49,900 bricks (according to Mr. L. B. McCall) that it took to build the church. Mr. McCall also related, before his death in 1989, that the old church building was torn down by the men about October 3, 1949, and they had a Christmas tree in the new church the same year even though the finishing work had not been completed. He also stated, as well as others, that the women played an important role in re-building the church. Some of them hauled bricks from Vidalia on a pick-up truck. It was Nina Mae Wilson who drove the truck and Hilda Fulghum, Estelle Keen, Mamie Lee King, Fannie Fulghum, Madena McCall and Lorena Fulghum that helped load and unload the bricks. Most likely these dedicated women helped in other ways too. Reportedly, Mr. Daughtry Mitchell and Mr. Ernest Moore, both experienced carpenters, were the only hired workers in the construction of the new church. There were many volunteers who worked feverishly to get the house of worship completed. Unfortunately, Mr. W. S. (Bill) Fulghum, a retired World War II serviceman, who was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed December 7, 1941, suffered a broken leg while working in the sanctuary. Lawrence McCall also received slight head injuries.

In special services held at the morning worship hour on August 20, 1950 the new church building was dedicated to the Glory of God and to the service of man. It was a joyful time. The sanctuary was filled to capacity with members, former members, several former pastors, friends in the community and the Daniell Baptist Association.

DEDICATION SERVICE Higgston Baptist Church August 20, 1950
Prelude Invocation Hymn No.1 "All Hail The Power"
Introductory Remarks Scripture - Psalm 122
Hymn No.196 "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord"
Scripture - Psalm 84
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Reading of Church Covenant
Special Music
Dedication Address
Dedication Response:
Leader: Oh God, we come before Thee this day to offer unto Thee this building for Thy divine worship and the extension of Thy Kingdom
Cong.: Oh Lord, we would dedicate this building unto Thee.
Leader: Lord Jesus Christ, Thou didst establish the Church; Thou didst love the Church and gave Thyself for it.
Cong.: Oh Lord, for Thy Church in this place we are grateful unto Thee.
Leader: Our Heavenly Father, we understand that Thy Church has been established in the world to preach Thy Gospel, to win the lost, to edify the saints, and to faithfully witness for Thee
Cong.: Oh Lord, may we be found faithfully discharging the work expected of Thy Church.
Leader: Our Master, Thy promise is that the very gates of hell shall not prevail against Thy church.
Cong.: Oh Lord, make known Thy mighty power unto us through Thy blessed Holy Spirit.
Leader: And now, Oh Father, we offer and give unto Thee this building and all its facilities for the holy purpose of preaching, teaching and expressing unto all men Thy holy truth and message.
Cong.: Oh Lord, we dedicate this building unto Thee.
Leader: Oh Lord God, when Thy people meet in this place may they ever by conscious of Thy Divine Presence in their midst.
Cong.: Oh Lord, we dedicate this building unto Thee.
Leader: Unto Thee, Our Father, we would dedicate our lives anew that through this, Thy Church, we might serve faithfully and joyfully in every task to which we are called in Thy Kingdom.
Cong.: Oh Lord, we desire to dedicate ourselves unto Thee.
Leader: And Now Lord, grant that Heaven's blessing may rest upon us all and especially upon each and every one who had any part in helping to bring this House of Worship into existence.
Cong.: Through this Church and through our lives bring honor and glory to Thy Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; to Whom be glory, praise, honor and thanksgiving now and forevermore. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
Hymn No. 239 "Blest Be The Tie"
Benediction

Soon after the completion of the new church, a Lord's Supper Table and chairs, and two pulpit chairs were placed in the sanctuary in memory of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Carpenter by their grandchildren. Mary Carpenter Clifton is a member of that family. The date on the memorial plate is August, 1950. Wade Carpenter, a son of Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Carpenter, grew up in the Higgston Church. He moved to Illinois as a young man. After many years there he retired and moved to Gulfport, Mississippi, where he lived until his death. He was survived by his wife, Marrilda. Mr. Wade remembered the church of his youth in his will. Mrs. Carpenter died in 1993. When her estate was settled in 1994, the lawyer sent a check for $9,000.00 to the Higgston Baptist Church. What a witness!

Mrs. Springer, a devoted Christian and helpmate, did not attend the church services in Higgston often. However, she filled the pulpit on occasions for Brother Springer. A most remarkable event took place in the new church on Christmas Day 1951 before the Springers moved to another field of service. Brother Joseph V. Springer and his son, Joseph V. Springer, Jr., a newly ordained minister, performed double wedding ceremonies for two couples in the church. Miss Mildred Thigpen and Mr. Douglas Morris were married by the senior minister, and Joe Jr. performed the ceremony for Miss Bernice Thigpen and Mr. Johnny Frazier McCall. The brides are sisters. Following the departure of Rev. Springer to California the afternoon church services were held as usual.

Rev. Lanier Beasley, a fine young minister, who was pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Vidalia, agreed to fill the pulpit at Higgston. He served for several months in 1951 and 1952. For some reason Rev. Beasley left his full time pastorate so that left Higgston without a preacher.

In 1952 Rev. Thomas Whitfield, a middle aged man with many health problems, came to pastor the church. At the time he was serving as pastor of Ailey Baptist Church and lived there. He resigned before he served a full year. But it was during his tenure that the 64th annual meeting of the Daniell Baptist Association held one session of its meetings at Higgston in October 1953. Mr. W. A. Holton, chairman of the deacons, and Mrs. Holton, W.M.U. President, began to make plans for that big day. But this presented some serious problems - a practically new brick sanctuary but no facilities. The women had the responsibility of cleaning the windows, the old wooden pews and other furniture. The piano was tuned and the new yellow pine floors were polished to a high shine before our distinguished guests arrived. The men were also assigned special duties: rake the yards, clear away any debris, gather boards and build a long table on the site. Water had to be provided. Last but not least, two outhouses were hauled in (on the back of pick-up trucks) to the premises for that day. October 22, 1953 was an eventful day in the life of this Church. We were hosts to all the churches in the Daniell Baptist Association. The crowds came as expected - messengers from the churches, state convention leaders and visitors. The church leaders came to attend to the business of the Association. The messengers representing the Higgston Church were: W. A. Holton, L. B. McCall, Frazier McCall and Ben McQueen. A bountiful supply of food was spread on the table outdoors and was enjoyed by a large group of good Baptists. The fellowship was great. As this writer reflects on that special day, it was the kindred spirit of fellowship that stands out most in her mind. There were representatives of the Holton, McCall, Fulghum, Keen, McQueen, Morris, King, Carpenter, Clark, Mathias, Brown, Lowe, Clifton, Dickson, Wilson, Mitchell, Moore, Brantley, Dixon, Collins, Durden, Thompson, Fountain, Jackson and Allmond families that worked together in perfect harmony for a successful day.

On Wednesday, January 13, 1954, pulpit committees from Mt. Pisgah and Higgston Baptist Churches met with Rev. Hugh L. Harber from Rentz, Georgia, to consider a half time ministry for each church. Rev. Harber, small in stature but big every other way, was called to serve both Churches. He moved on to the Mt. Pisgah field in the Kibbee community where he lived for eighteen months. While there his family increased from three to five. Twin girls, Patty and Peggy, were born there to Rev. Harber and Estelle. They already had a son, Randy. Arrangements were made for church services to be held on first and third Sundays with prayer meeting on Thursday nights. It was during his half time ministry that he was able to get a badly needed building project - additional Sunday School rooms started. On Easter Sunday 1956 all day services were held to dedicate the new brick educational building consisting of six classrooms and two bathrooms which was valued at $9,000. The annex was completed at half the cost due to the free labor by members and friends of the Church. A sunrise service began the day's activities which included the dedication program, open house and a picnic dinner at the Church. Assisting Brother Harber was Rev. W. A. Duncan, Jr., Missionary for the Daniell Baptist Association. In a church conference on September 30, 1956, Rev. Hugh L. Harber was called to be the first full time pastor of the Higgston Baptist Church. He immediately moved onto the field. The first church bulletins were printed during his ministry. Things went really well for quite a while in the Church fellowship. Sunday School attendance was up, the first sunrise service was held and a Vacation Bible School was held during this interim. With a pastor on the field it soon became evident that the Church needed a pastorium. A lot was purchased. At that time many issues came into play. The original lot was returned to the owner for the purchase price. Then the lot on which the pastorium now stands was secured. Rev. Harber moved his family, Estelle, Randy, Patty and Peggy, to Vidalia for a short while. In late 1959 he was called to another field of service in South Carolina.

In 1960 Rev. Allen B. Roberts, formerly a student at Brewton-Parker College, was called to pastor the Church. His wife, Dorothy, served as pianist. While here they adopted a son, Wayne. He was a dedicated young preacher with a first time pastorate. He helped with the actual building of the pastorium, which added to the value of the property. He and Mrs. Roberts were the first to occupy the new pastor's home. But, it was not for long. They had to move on - to an uncertain future.

In the fall of 1962, a young Brewton Parker student, Kenneth Fleeman, and his wife, Anne, came to serve the Higgston Baptist Church. They were a very good team and served the Church well. Ken and Anne worked diligently with an active group of young people. They seemed to have had a great impact on their lives. After the Fleemans graduated from the two year College, they transferred to another school, and Ken preached in a West Georgia community.

During the interim, after the departure of the Fleemans, new oak pews and a pulpit stand were installed. Now, all the original furnishings of the old sanctuary have been replaced.

Just after Thanksgiving of 1963 Rev. English Byrd and wife Mary came to minister in our community and to be pastor of the Higgston Baptist Church. Mrs. Byrd served as pianist. They had an interesting family which included Dan, a University of Georgia student; David, a senior in high school; and Royce, a tenth grader. These teen-agers joined a good group of youngsters in the Church: Becky Brantley, Glenda Collins, Judy Thigpen, Theron Allmond, Edwin Brantley, Wayne Durden, James Morris and Cecil Williamson. Rev. Byrd's family added much to the life of the community, especially the Church. All were dedicated to the cause of Christ and His Kingdom. After Royce's graduation from high school in 1966, the family moved to another field of service. Rev. and Mrs. Byrd are retired and live in Cornelia, Georgia.

Rev. Andrew L. Miles" Andy" served as interim pastor for several months of 1966 and 1967. He was a chaplain at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville.

The longest tenure of any pastor was that of the Rev. Frank Morrison, Sr. who served from 1967 to 1974. Originally from Alabama, he and his wife, Susie, moved from Ohoopee to Higgston. It was during this seven year period a baptistery and choir loft were installed. A lot was purchased for a fellowship hall and a building fund was begun. The sanctuary floors were carpeted. Thanks to Cecil Brantley who was largely responsible for the work. The pastorium was renovated: more space was added, a central heating and cooling system installed, and the building was brick veneered. One of the most unique events in Brother Morrison's ministry occurred in July of 1973 when he baptized three generations of the same family: Mr. Henry C. Witt, son, Earl, and granddaughters, Joan and Nancy Witt. Brother Morrison was known as a "visiting" preacher. He spent most of his Saturday afternoons visiting in the community and the mobile home parks inviting folks, especially children, to Sunday School. It was during this time that the church recorded its highest attendance in Sunday School. In July of 1974 Brother Morrison resigned as pastor, effective immediately. As Rev. Morrison left the Higgston Church, he found a place of worship elsewhere. A group of people from the area started a new church in Vidalia, and Rev. Frank Morrison, Sr. became the first pastor of Vidalia Baptist Temple.

On December 8, 1974, Rev. Edward Mimbs was called to pastor the church. He moved a lovely family consisting of his wife, Marjorie, and children, Randall, Roderick and Selena into the pastorium. What a nice addition to the community as well as the church. Teen-agers, Cary and Bryne Helms, Timothy Howell and others were happy to have the preacher's "kids" join them. All of the auxiliary organizations of this Missionary church were active during this time, cooperating with the Daniell Baptist Association, the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention in an effort to spread the gospel at home and to the uttermost parts of the earth. Rev. Wayne W. Durden son of the late W. G. Durden and Ethlyn Durden is the only minister that has been ordained by the Higgston Baptist Church in its long history. His ordination service was held May 25, 1975. He now serves as Pastor of White Springs Church near Dublin. July 2, 1978 was a great day in the history of this church. Ground breaking services were held for the building of the fellowship hall. A large congregation witnessed this event after the morning church services. The participants were: Rev. Edward Mimbs, Pastor, Jack Mitchell, Contractor and Cecil Brantley, Chairman of the deacons. Regrettably, just one week later Rev. Mimbs tendered his resignation as pastor of the church.

Rev. Wade McBride of Emanuel County and Ronald Collins, a dedicated young deacon in the church rose to the occasion and preached regularly for nearly eight months. They spoke on alternate Sundays. All of the church programs progressed as usual. The services were well attended.

The beautiful new annex including the fellowship hall, kitchen, space for Sunday School classes, a minister's office, a large adult Sunday School classroom, closets, bathrooms and vestibule was completed in record time. The Homecoming meal was served in it on October 15, 1978. There is no record of any formal dedication of this fine facility that means so much to the church.

Rev. Lee F. Pulliam was called to preach at Higgston on April 8, 1979. He moved his family into the pastorium. Sara, his wife, was employed elsewhere but she was always in the church services and taught a Sunday School class. All the youngsters in the church welcomed the teen-agers Kyle and Lisa. Regina Holton, Debbie Brewer and the Pirkle girls had a new church friend. The Helms boys added another fishing buddy. While Brother Lee was pastor, Leon Pirkle, a great Christian Musician came to lead the choir in our church. He was accompanied by his wife, Barbara, two daughters and two sons.

On May 24, 1981 twenty-one choir chairs were given to the church in memory of the late Mr. J. O. Brown, a former member of the church. Family members present at the dedication were: Mrs. J. O. Brown, Mr. Lamar Brown, Mrs. Kermit McCorlde and Mrs. Otto Beckum.

Everything seemed to be going well with the church, but due to a family crisis in the Pulliam home the situation changed. Rev. Pulliam continued to serve the church for several months but in February of 1983 he resigned the pastorate.

For about six months there was no pastor or interim to fill the pulpit; however, the deacons always had a speaker to fill the void.

A young couple, Rev. Coleman Odom and his wife Bonnie, ministered in our church and community from August 10, 1983 to June 29, 1986. Brother Odom was a compassionate pastor.

Rev. J. Ansley Jordan, a former Daniell Baptist Association Missionary, served as interim pastor, though not officially elected, for more than a year. He and his wife, Floye, did a wonderful work in our midst. Perhaps the most memorable was the Peace With God revival. We continue to be blessed by his presence in our church on occasions. Everybody loves Brother Ansley.

Rev. Allen O'Quinn was called as a bi-vocational pastor June 7, 1987, he held a position at Brewton-Parker College and his wife Deborah taught school and took care of the two young children, Matthew and Laura. Brother O'Quinn was a great preacher. He had many responsibilities and long hours at Brewton Parker that proved to be too much. Brother AI resigned in December of 1988 to become a full time minister in McDonough, Georgia.

Dr. Cecil Staton, a young Brewton-Parker professor, accepted the position of Interim Pastor of the Higgston Baptist Church January 22, 1989. Dr. Staton and his wife, Catherine lived in Ailey and served this church well. He was a masterful speaker and a brilliant student of the Bible. He was a graduate of Oxford University in England. It was during his ministry that Randy McDuffie was elected to serve as Minister of Music and Youth Director. He and the preschool boys, Luke and Mark, were an inspiration as they served so faithfully during trying times. Randy was a Brewton-Parker student with great talent and excellent training in music. This was demonstrated at every Sunday service and on special occasions with the presentation of cantatas by the choir. It was with regret that the church accepted Randy's resignation in September of 1993. He became a full time Minister of Music at Tabernacle Baptist in Vidalia where he continues to serve. The first church directory was published during this time. March 10, 1991 was especially significant because it was the date a new church steeple was dedicated in memory of Mr. Eschol Fountain by his family. Dr. Staton led the congregation in a litany of dedication for the steeple placed on the forty year old structure. Among the family members present were Mrs. Frances Fountain and her children Martha and James Horne, E. F. and Elaine Fountain, Joyce and Powell Collins. We pray that this steeple might be a witness to point this community to God and His love through Jesus Christ. After two years, Dr. Staton left the area and went to Mercer University in Macon where he became involved in the publishing ministry.

The pastor's search committee contacted Rev. Jack Deeds, the pastor at Tarrytown Baptist Church (who planned to move) to consider coming to Higgston. After a trial sermon the congregation called him as pastor. Reverend Carl Milton, Director of Missions for the Daniell Baptist Association, presided over an installation service for Reverend Jack N. Deeds on April 7, 1991. Believing this move to be a direct call from God, Brother Jack and Maxine Deeds moved into our community to minister to the people of God with high expectations. Their happy disposition was definitely an asset. He was a retired serviceman with lots of Christian experiences while serving his country in many parts of the world. He came to Brewton-Parker to get some formal training for the ministry. Mrs. Deeds was dedicated to missions and worked well with the children and young women. She was also active in community affairs.

It was prior to the beginning of Brother Jack's ministry that most of the renovation on the church had been done. But the dedication service was held after Rev. Deeds became pastor. On October 20, 1991 the annual Homecoming was observed. The highlight of the day was the dedication of the newly renovated sanctuary, which included an arched ceiling, new lights, new pews, stained glass windows and cross. A new entrance and porch enhanced by the steeple, dedicated earlier this year, along with the stained glass windows added much to the appearance and beauty of the church.

During Brother Jack's tenure the constitution and by-laws were updated. On Easter morning, May 2, 1993, after a beautiful worship service Brother Deeds surprised the congregation with his resignation as pastor of the Higgston Baptist Church. They moved to Ovieda, Florida near their daughter and her family. Later, he became pastor of a Baptist church near Deland, Florida.

The Higgston Baptist Church building suffered a severe blow, almost a tragedy, when lightning struck the church steeple during a thunderstorm early Monday morning, July 19, 1993. According to Julian Morris, there were two bolts of lightning, one hit the steeple, and the other knocked out two air conditioners and the well pump. Upon investigation, he and his wife, Grace, found smoke coming from the switch box closet inside the church. They alerted the Vidalia and Montgomery County Correctional Institute Fire Departments. Church officials were notified. The news spread and many in the community and passers-by came to help. The quick response of all saved our church. Volunteers came in to clean up the water and smoke damage which everyone considered as minimal. The original pulpit stand that was in the closet received the most damage of anything inside. After extensive repairs and refinishing by a professional, it now stands in the sanctuary. Fortunately, the insurance company took care of all the damages in record time. The church donated the damaged steeple to Fairview Baptist Church near Soperton. A member of the congregation, who is an expert, repaired the steeple. It is now a witness for Christ in a rural community in Treutlen County.

The pastor search committee invited Rev. Hilbert "Red" Lawrence to an evening meal to meet the people of the church. The following day, Sunday, he preached a "trial" sermon.

After a recommendation by the committee, the congregation called Rev. Lawrence. He accepted the call in October, 1993. He and his wife, Margaret along with a granddaughter moved into the pastorium. Rev. Lawrence was a retired serviceman who had traveled extensively. .Mrs. Lawrence was a wonderful help mate. She worked in a department store but was faithful to the church and contributed as much as possible - working in missions. Things did not progress in the church and attendance dwindled. On the spur of the moment Rev. Lawrence resigned as pastor in March of 1994 - effective immediately.

Rev. David Carter, an ordained local minister, filled the pulpit many times before, and after Rev. Lawrence's tenure. David is a fine christian young man who endeared himself to the church family at Higgston with his messages. He is married to Selena Warnock, the daughter of Marie McQueen Warnock. Both are former members of our church.

Michael A. Harrison, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has served as pastor of the Higgston Baptist Church from August 21, 1994 to the Present. Brother Mike came as a student from Brewton-Parker College and has continued his education through the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary through the Augusta extension. During this time the church has experienced baptisms and has had several new members join the church family. Brother Michael's wife, the former Julie Howell, is a real asset to his ministry. She is very active with children's ministry and loves the church choir. From the beginning Brother "Mike" expressed a real concern for the youth. The church engaged a student, Gerry Smith, to assist with their activities. After his resignation, Danny Broyles was elected as Youth Minister. The church was doubly blessed when Danny and Kim joined our fellowship. Danny has led the teen-agers of our church to new heights. Kim has added much with her drama and teaching ability. We thank the Lord that the church leaders of tomorrow are being prepared under Brother Danny's ministry.

One major change came in the Fall of 1995 with the addition of a church sign which has been a beacon of light for Christ in our dark world. In the spring of 1996 the church body adopted the following mission statement:

Our Vision is to do the will of God through action in ministry, and our Mission is to see others come to salvation in Jesus and equip each to become active in ministry.

Many gifts have been given to our church throughout the years. All have had an impact, but none so great that it would affect the spiritual growth of the membership if used as the well equipped Church library that has been given by Miss La Faye Dickson in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Dickson. The library materials consist of a vast number of books, maps, pictures, and diagrams as well as lawyer book cases in which to store them. These were donated by Miss Dickson over a period of years. The church is certainly indebted to Miss LaFaye for these memorial gifts.

Traditionally, our church is an autonomous body of believers who have from the beginning united with other missionary Baptist in order to better carry on the work of God's church. Therefore, we are a part of the local Daniell Baptist Association, the Georgia State Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Along with the State Convention is the official newspaper, The Christian Index which is the oldest religious paper in our country beginning in 1822. In addition to meeting the needs of the local Church these special offerings have been given throughout the years and to the present by the Higgston Baptist Church: Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon Foreign Mission Offering, Annie Armstrong Home Mission Offering, Georgia Baptist State Mission Offering, Georgia Baptist Medical Center, Georgia Baptist Children's Homes, World Hunger, Daniell Baptist Association, The Gideons Ministry, and other offerings and love offerings as a need has risen.

The events that played an important role in the growth and development of this area, Higgston in particular, took place just before and after the turn of the 20th Century. But fate was not on our side for many years. The "boom" town disappeared as many people and businesses moved away. However, as we approach the 21st Century, there is evidence that Higgston may be on the brink of a greater period of growth in the city and surrounding areas. The challenge for the Higgston Baptist Church and the community is to reach out to all newcomers in a spirit of Christian love and friendship to win them to Christ.

Centennial Committee:

Eric Moxley,Chairman
Phyllis Allmond,Historian
Hazel Collins
J. T. Helms
Dana Helms
Michael Harrison,Pastor