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unday, August 9, 1914, the people of the Holly Springs Community met with the Presbytery from the Watauga Baptist Church for the purpose of organizing a church. This small band of believers shared a new dream. That dream was to have a spiritually vibrant Baptist Church in the heart of Holly Springs. After Scripture reading and prayer by Brother J.M. Bennett, Holly Springs Baptist Church was thus organized with a membership of forty-two. Forty came from Watauga and two from Tellico. Reverend R.P. McCracken was elected as pastor.
Charter members were: Rev. J.P. McCracken, Mrs. Addie McCracken, Wayne McCracken, Walter Elliott, Mrs. Ida Elliott, Miss Annie Elliott, Jess Elliott, Mrs. Mary Elliott, Mrs. L.A. Berry, Miss Alma Berry, Miss Cora Sanders, Eldredge Robinson, Joe Corbin, Mrs. Lula Corbin, Mrs. Sarah Corbin, Henry D. Corbin, Miss Nannie Corbin, Mrs. Emma Crisp, Elias V. Ammons, Mrs. Margie Ammons, Miss Meta Ammons, Mrs. Lula Ammons, Robert F. Henry, Ruth Henry, Thomas L. Seay, Margaret Seay, Jim Seay, Etta Seay, Minnie Seay, Zora Seay, Mrs. Annie Rickman, Mattie Rickman, Elizabeth Rickman, Mary Rickman, James M. Raby, Mrs. Inda Raby, Vester C. Raby, John W. Williams, Mrs. Margaret Williams, Mary W. Seay, Bunyon Justice, and Mrs. Rosa Justice.
The group met in the old schoolhouse until it burned. They then met in the building of the Mill Shoal Council No 246 Junior Order of UAM, which was located near the Jennings Cemetery and site of the present Holly Springs Baptist Church, until a church was built and completed on April 11, 1917, on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. John W. Williams. Although very little information is recorded concerning the labor on the new building, it is thought that most of the work was done by the members. The property was valued at $3500. Mr. Bob Shook purchased the bell in Atlanta, GA for $75.00. The exact date of purchase is unknown. It was shipped to Franklin by train and on to Holly Springs by wagon. The bell still has a beautiful ring today as it calls our people together.
Excerpts from the clerk’s records reveal some interesting financial activities. In January, 1915, the church received an offering of $1.11 for foreign missions and $1.50 for state missions. The pastor’s salary was raised to $60.00 per year. A collection taken on May 14, 1915, for the new church building totaled $4.62. Sixteen ladies were asked to “set a hen”, and the proceeds were given to missions. On November 9, 1918, each member was asked to give the equivalent of one day’s pay to the orphanage. John W. Williams would keep the “house” clean for $12 per year.
On November 14, 1954, the congregation voted to purchase the George Crawford house as a parsonage. The church building was remodeled as more space was needed, until the church family saw the need for a new building.
In 1960 the church family stepped out on faith and, with only $3272.00 in the building fund, began constructing a new church. Much local labor was freely given and the cooperation from a united congregation was apparent. During the construction of the church, Mr. Frank L. Cabe placed a canister containing current pictures, articles and newspapers in the wall of the church near the front entrance. Mrs. Alex Deal pledged $10 for every child from Holly Springs Community that she had started in the first grade. The church accepted her check for $500, representing fifty children, to be used to purchase new pews. The first services were held in the new building on July 14, 1963. By 1969 the church was debt free and in September 1970 the members voted to build a new parsonage. Open house was held on May 20, 1973. By December 12, 1977, the church was again debt free.
The church was incorporated in 1990 and the next decade saw many improvements to the church building, all evidence of Holly Springs’ reliance on the Lord and the cooperation of the community with the church. The church added an educational wing with a fellowship hall, kitchen, four bathrooms, pastor’s study, secretary’s office, and five classrooms. Renovations to older parts of the building were completed, including air conditioning. A fifteen-passenger Dodge van was purchased. A Veterans’ Memorial Marker was dedicated to the men and women who have served our country in times of conflict. New carpeting, baptistery curtains, and re-upholstered pews were added to the sanctuary.
The church impacts the community as the community supports the church. In 1995 the church youth, leaders of the community youth, conducted a community survey informing residents of the activities of the Community Development Club. Pastor Ed Trull, Holly Springs’ nominee for Man of the Year, was also honored as WNC Man of the Year. Holly Springs Youth and the church were part of a team for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The team raised over $3,000 and won a prize for “Best Team Name,” which was FROGS—Friends Relying on God!
During 1998 the church van was paid off and a tape ministry was started. The public address system was upgraded and stage lights were added. On September 20, the church voted unanimously to purchase 9.09 acres of land adjacent to the church property, at a cost of $113,625, from the Ina Bell Williams family for parking and future expansion. Within a sixty-day period all but $61,877 had been raised and a mortgage secured for the remainder. On December 29, 1999, a special service was held to “burn the mortgage.”
In May, 1999 the Holly Springs Baptist Church held its 85th Homecoming and celebrated Law Enforcement Day on May 9. Part of this celebration was thanksgiving to the Lord for blessing our congregation with the wonderful opportunity of growth. In June 1999 a second Sunday service was added, and even then we frequently needed chairs in the aisles to accommodate those who came to worship the Lord. By April 2003, there would be three Sunday morning services and two Sunday School sessions!
The Twenty-first Century saw the church membership responding to the Lord’s direction in a tremendous stewardship campaign named Touching Tomorrow Together! and based on Psalms 145:4—“One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy might acts.” In one message to the people about this mission Pastor Ed Trull wrote, “This campaign is not about money or buildings. It is about people. The new buildings will help us reach more people for Christ and then provide for more people going out from our church buildings into the world to be the church and to proclaim His love.”
Since October 2000 the Youth Ministry has occupied a mobile unit. To meet additional needs of a growing congregation for spiritual guidance, counseling and teaching, Rev. Lynn Dulakis was welcomed first as a part time, and in August 2001 as a full-time associate pastor. In March 2001 a Building Committee was elected and the Touching Tomorrow Together! project officially began.
Groundbreaking for the new building occurred on December 9, 2001. By October 6, 2002, the basement walls had been finished and the congregation celebrated Signature Sunday. Members and friends gathered after morning services to sign their names and favorite Scriptures on the inside walls of the basement. A year later, on October 19, 2003, the first service was held in a still unfinished sanctuary. What a blessed day that was!
The vision is still with us. God’s presence and blessings on the work of Holly Springs Baptist Church continues and is felt in every service and every project of the church. Eighty-nine years after a small band of believers shared a dream of a spiritually vibrant church in the heart of the Holly Springs Community, a larger band of believers continues to seek the will of God for that community.
“One generation shall praise the works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” Psalms 145:4
Note: This history has been compiled from the following sources:
1. Macon County Historical Society, Inc., Jesse Sutton, Ed., The Heritage of Macon County North Carolina 1987 , Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Hunter Publishing Company, 1987. Page 589
2. Western North Carolina Community Development Program 1949-1999, Community History Project. Pages 65-72.
3. Holly Springs Baptist Church Building Committee, Touching Tomorrow Together, 2001.
4. Pictures owned by Mrs. Dorothy Seagle, Church Clerk
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