Ways Baptist Church was organized in 1817 by Revolutionary War veterans near the present-day community of Stellaville, about three miles east of Wrens. It was named for John Way, who donated the land on which it was sited and was known originally as Darcy’s Meeting House. The members were originally part of Brushy Creek Baptist Church but were dismissed for some reason, perhaps because they had slaves or had disagreements over other controversial issues. Enslaved persons were among the first members of the new congregation. A log cabin was built first, then a more formal structure. William Donovan oversaw construction of the present structure in 1851. It features what appears to be a slave gallery (common in churches with slave members) and the labor was likely accomplished by the slaves themselves. After emancipation, they founded their own congregation nearby, known as Ways Grove Baptist Church.
It is a beautiful church and churchyard, and there is an historic cemetery across the highway.
I am a direct descendant of the Way bloodline. Oscar L. Way Sr. was my Great Grandfather. I am looking for information on the Church Homecoming.
Bill Way ??
Or is it Rev. John Way, who is buried in a prominent spot directly across from the church ?
Is it documented anywhere that members of Brushy Creek were dismissed because they owned slaves? Were they dismissed in good standing to start another church, or expelled from the church? It is important to know the facts before suggesting a historical narrative.
It isn’t specifically documented, which is why I said “perhaps”. This is simply an educated guess, considering the controversy over slavery which arose from the 1845 Triennial Convention of the American Baptist Home Mission Society a and the establishment date of Ways Chapel. The split between regional factions and the embrace of slavery and secession by the Southern Baptists of Georgia that came by 1861 are possible clues. To their credit, the early Baptists of Georgia had been largely anti-slavery.
I’d be interested to know any more tidbits of early Ways Baptist info you might have. John Way was my 4th great uncle.
There is some confusion regarding John Way because two historical websites have ‘Bill Way’.