Hopewell Baptist Church No. 1

The Hopewell History
By R. B. Henderson
The South Reporter, Unknown Date

Submitted by Martha Fant

The genesis of Hopewell Baptist Church No. 1 predates the Space Age, the horseless carriage, and the memory of most men. However, history is biased as it is recorded.

We are aware that history is being made in our city church wise and that the patterns to which the older members have become accustomed are not necessarily the blue prints of the future. However, the following account is authentic.

The Hopewell Baptist Church No. 1 in Holly Springs, Mississippi was organized in 1868 by Rev. Louis Avant, supported by Sis. Martha Upshaw, Bro. Monroe Hill, Sis. Martha Ragsdale, Bro. Will Bryant, Bro. Lee Ragsdale and Bro. John Kelly. Bro. Monroe Hill, Bro. John Kelly, Bro. Richard Upshaw, and Bro. Louis Upshaw were ordained the first Deacons. Bro. John Lee Upshaw was elected the first Recording Secretary. The beginning was under a "brush harbor" in Butts Alley near Hillcrest Cemetery. The brush harbor in Butts Alley did not prove to be an ideal location; so in 1871 the members moved to Bonner Street, the present location, on property given to them by Sherwood Bonner. After moving to Bonner St. the members worshiped in a brush harbor where in the second week of September, 1871 the first revival was held. Immediately following the Revival, plans were made to erect the first church edifice.

The following ministers have served as pastors of this great congregation. The Rev. Louis Avant, first Pastor of Hopewell served from 1868 to 1896, the Rev. Simon Hunt, 1896 to 1900, the Rev. Elihue Tiggs who founded the Baptist Seminary served from 1900 to his death in 1916. In 1905 during the tenure of Rev. Tiggs a dispute arose in the church resulting in a split of the membership. A "faction" of members led by Professor G. W. Sadler left Hopewell and organized their own church, which they named Providence.

Rev. J. H. Mills served as Pastor from 1916 to 1918. The Rev. O. W. Hoyle served from 1918 to 1923, the Rev. C. Bayum from 1923 to 1925, the Rev. Joseph Marby served from 1926 to 1929, the Rev. J. W. Greenwood from 1929 to 1931, the Rev. R. W. Wilkins served from 1931 to 1936, the Rev. J. W. Smith served from 1936 to 1938. In 1938 the Rev. R. W. Wilkins returned to Hopewell and served as Pastor until 1939. In 1939 the Rev. W. T. Warren of Rienzi, Miss. was called to the pastorate of Hopewell, he served until 1944. The Rev. O. E. Johnson served as Pastor from 1945 to 1947. The Rev. S. Givins of Water Valley, Miss. was elected Pastor in 1947 and served until 1950. The Rev. C. B. Mitchell served as Pastor from 1950 to 1952, the Rev. F. D. McKia served from 1952 to 1953, Rev. W. L. Lindsey served as Pastor from 1953 to 1954. Under the tenure of Rev. Lindsey our present building was completed. In 1954 the Rev. James Sutton of Greenwood, Miss. was elected Pastor he served until 1955. The Rev. G. H. Bluit was elected pastor in 1956 and served until 1966. In 1967 the call was extended to the Rev. Ralph Lofton of Memphis, Tenn.; he served as Pastor until 1970. In 1970 the Rev. J. L. Armstrong of Memphis was extended the call of Pastor and served less than a year before resigning to assume the Pastorate of a church in Covington, Tenn.

In retrospect, a warm glow is engendered as the personalities of these great leaders focus in our mind's eye. They were friends, counselors, administrators, gospel preachers, energetic God fearing men with great potentialities who used their time and talents in a manner that enthused the members.

Friday, August 20, 1971 was the "Dawn of A New Day," for on this date our present Pastor, Dr. Moses L. Cooper was elected Pastor. Dr. Cooper fits into the pattern of the Baptist Church, a seasoned Pastor of a wide experience, a preacher of renown and has earned the respect of this congregation. This flexible leader with the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead Hopewell to even higher grounds.

Beyond all the achievements, the major emphasis at Hopewell remains to redeem the souls of fallen men. To this end all of us at Hopewell expend our energies. The shore is dimly seen.

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