Old Friendship Baptist Church

Old Friendship Baptist Church
1853

The Church was organized in 1853 by slaves with the help of Rev. John Jennings. Their first place of worship was a Brush Arbor built on one half acre of land donated by Mr. Jim Hardage, a plantation owner. The slaves worshipped in the Brush Arbor from 1854 to 1865. Rev. Jennings was given the land by his former master. They built a one room log church with a dirt floor and wooden shutters for windows. *

A white clapboard building was built later to replace the original log structure and served its membership for over 100 years.

Around 1910 – 1913 a windstorm destroyed the roof. Faced with rebuilding the church, some of the members thought the church should have a less isolated location and a new frame church which is still standing, was built on Villa Rica Road (corner of Friendship Church Road), less than two miles from the original church. The church split its membership over the issue with half of its members staying at the old site and the other half moving to the new one. **

Many of the members would not move because they saw their church as being built on sacred ground with historical roots that should not be forgotten. The church had its beginnings in the 1850s when a slave named Jennings held worship services in a brush arbor on the planation where he lived. When he was freed, he was given three acres which he used to build a church for his people and which he said should always be used as church grounds. **

The members led a three-year campaign in 1967 to replace this old clapboard church building. The church building was rebuilt in 1970 with Rev.R. E. Henley as Pastor.

A marker was placed in the brickwork at the front of the church building honoring the founders and deacons. “OLD FRIENDSHIP BAPTIST CHURCH,ORGANIZED 1854, REV JOHN JENNINGS AND JENNINGS FAMILY, REBUILT 1970, REV R. E. HENLY, PASTOR. BOARD OF DEACONS: CHARLIE WRIGHT, ROLAND DOBBS, ROBERT THOMAS, CHARLIE MOON, HAGOOD MCCLESKEY, JAMES MCMURTRY, DAVID MONTGOMERY. And across the bottom: M.W.P.H.G.L. – X.L. NEAL, G.M.: **

Then in 1975 tragedy struck when the new church building was gutted by fire. The fire was thought to have been started by a faulty stove in the basement, gutted the basement. For the next eight years, services were held at the Lemon Street School in Marietta. **

Through hard work and many donations by the members, friends, churches and businesses in the community, a new building was realized, rebuilt and dedicated in July of 1983. This would be the second time many of its members were to celebrate moving into a new church building. Even though the church was now ready for worship services, there was still expensive brickwork remains to be completed and the basement still needed to be finished. **

In December of 1999, the members of the church burned its $30,000 mortgage, symbolizing freedom from debt and a chance for new beginnings at a service on Friendship Church Road off Casteel Road and Dallas Highway. ***

Old Friendship Baptist church is the oldest black (African-American) church in Cobb County.

Notes:

* Information found on a picture of the Old Friendship Baptist Church located in the Black History Room at the Seven Springs Museum

** Old newspaper article from The Marietta Daily Journal dated Friday, July 1, 1983. Information from article of interviews of members of the church. “Old Friendship Baptist to Celebrate Church Building”, by Tucker McQueen, staff writer. The full article on file at Seven Springs Museum.

*** Old newspaper article from The Marietta Daily Journal dated Monday, December 20, 1999. Information from article of interviews of members of the church. “Burning away an old debt” by Lisa Borello, staff writer. The full article on file at Seven Springs Museum.

Author: curator