Bethlehem Primitive Baptist church was established in 1834 as the Baptist Church at Christ Bethlehem, just two years after the Primitive sect was formed nationally from a split with the Missionary Baptists. They formally affiliated with the Primitive Baptists in 1840.
The present church, constructed circa 1861, is one of the few remaining antebellum structures surviving in Brooks County.
To those familiar with the Crawfordite Primitve Baptists of Southeast Georgia, it will look quite familiar, as it is plain, unpainted, and contains multiple entrances.
The congregation disbanded in 1964, had a brief revival between 1981-1984, and has been inactive ever since.
It’s a serene place that will hopefully be preserved far into the future.
National Register of Historic Places
This is a special place for me and I am honored to have visited it several times. My ancestors built and worshiped in this old church. #BrooksCountyGA
My 5th great grandfather John Dean built the pulpit, my 4th great grandfather Wilson Johnson built the pews and my 5th great grandfather Jared Johnson was one of the charter members and first deacons.
In 1841 the Ocklochnee anti-Missionary Baptist Association added an article to their original Articles of Faith making the famous Thirteenth Article, in which they declared non-fellowship with any member who engaged or believed in Sunday-school work, missions, theological schools or any other new-fangled institutions of the day. Bethlehem was a member of the above Ocklochnee Association and in 1840 officially adopted the name Primitive Baptist to declare their defiance of the aforementioned new-fangled institutions. Liberty, on the other hand, was founded by my g-g-g-g-grandmother, Nancy Cone Hagan, an excommunicated Primitive member on the principle that Missionaries, Sunday School and Theological education would be the very purpose of the new church and thus the name Liberty.
I spoke with the county commissioners office and at this time the county owns the building and grounds. No one appears to be keeping it up other than mowing unfortunately.
Who keeps it up?
I visited High Bluff Primitive Baptist Church in Brantley County as a child. This picture looks exactly as I remember the interior of High Bluff looking.