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"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)


July 23, 1853- The General Baptist Church of Oakland City was organized by Elder Jacob Speer and Elder William Reavis in the Old Johnson Schoolhouse which stood where Montgomery Cemetery is now located. The name chosen for the new church was Keg Creek Church of General Baptists.


Charter members of the new congregation were William and Elizabeth Nossett, James and Elizabeth Wheeler, George and Jane Mitchell, Mary Harper Kinman and Judah Cockrum.


The group chose Elder Reavis as their first pastor. During the first years, all of the meetings were held in the schoolhouse or in the homes of the members.


August 27, 1858- the church voted to change its name to Oakland Church of General Baptists and in 1859 a church building, the first in Oakland City, was erected at the cost of $1400.00. It was located on a lot occupied by the present parsonage and church building facing what is now an alley. Since the General Baptists held meetings only once a month, other denominations used our building.


The first new member to join the church was William Rowe, in August 1853. In September 1854, Cinderella P. Crow became a member.


There were no records of meetings for the next four years until the summer of 1858 the members met in the unfinished house of Alexander Cockrum to plan a new building. At this meeting, five members joined the church: F. M. Rose, Lucinda Barrett, Nancy Jane Chappell, Billy Brown, and Delilah Lane. During this time there was no regular pastor and the meetings were conducted by Elders Speers, Voyles, Stinson, Camp and Strain.


July 1858- more new members joined. They were Col. James W. Cockrum, Edward Crow, Sarah Jane Ross, Rebecca Simons, William M. Cockrum, Lucretia Cockrum, William Holbrook and wife, James E. Chappell and Cinda Wheeler. All unbaptized members were baptized in Patoka River at Dongola by Elder T. H. Strain in August.


September 1858- Rev. George F. Cavanugh was elected pastor.


When the new church was built, the members had little money to give toward the building of the structure. So, they subscribed and then worked out their subscriptions. James E. Chappell carried mortar and James W. Cockrum made all of the shingles and furnished the balance of the money needed above the subscriptions. In the Spring of 1861, the women of the church met and cut out rags for a carpet for the church. Mrs. Judah P. Cockrum and Mrs. Mitchell then wove the carpet.

Among the early pastors was Rev. Jacob Speer who served from 1861 to 1863, followed by Rev. Jesse G. Lane who entered upon his first pastorate.


One of the most interesting stories in the history of the church occurred during the Civil War. The church was used for a recruiting station and when news arrived of the capture of Vicksburg by General Grant, the church bell was brought out and rung until it split and was rendered useless. This bell has since been mounted and is on display in the west foyer together with our first pulpit from which Benoni Stinson preached. Following the war, a number of the men killed in the war were buried in the church cemetery.


James M. Cockrum and George Foley were responsible for starting a Sunday School which continued several years as a union school. When the other churches began to have their own buildings and schools, the Sunday School became General Baptist.

In the Fall of 1864, the Liberty Association convened here.


July 1863- The news was received that General Grant, after a siege of many weeks, had captured Vicksburgh, the citizens of Oakland City removed this bell from its frame and carried it outside to celebrate the victory.  In order to increase the noise, some pounded it.  The bell was cracked and rendered useless.

February 1865- Edward Crow, F. M. Rose, and James M. Cockrum were appointed to a committee to erect a cupola and to hang the bell.


May 1873- the church began to have meetings each month. An additional sixteen feet were added to the church building and a baptistry and two dressing rooms were erected. A cistern built outside the church furnished water for the pool.

An organ was installed in the church and in 1875 the church was host to the General Association.

Remodeling of the church building was completed during the pastorate of Rev. F. H. Wood from 1882 to 1884.


1891- during the pastorate of Rev. D. L. Fraser, the Christian Endeavor Society was organized for the young people of the church. In this same year, the first building of the college was completed. The Ladies Aid Society of the church served meals at the fair to raise money for the purchase of chairs for the college. Mrs. W. M. Cockrum served as chairman of this project.

On the anniversary of the founding of the church, July 23, 1895, the congregation of the church voted to have preaching every Sunday.


February 1898- The Women's Missionary Society was organized by the pastor's wife, Mrs. Arthur E. Cox.


1904- The first pipe organ was installed during the pastorate of Dr. T. H. Drake and dedicated during the fifty-first anniversary.


The first parsonage was erected during the pastorate of Rev. John E. Cox and the first pastor to occupy the parsonage was Rev. Charles H. Rogers in 1908. He was followed by pastors Rev. Benjamin Franklin, Rev. Frank Hartly, and Rev. D. L. Frazer.


Rev. W. P. Dearing served as pastor 1915-1920; Dr. Fred G. Kenny, 1920-1924; Rev. E. L. Hamilton, 1924-1926; Rev. Joe Meade, 1926-1929; Rev. Alva E. McKenny, 1929-1936. During McKenney's pastorate, the parsonage was damaged by fire in 1931, and the church was destroyed by fire in 1933. Both have been rebuilt. Dr. H. D. Harmeyer led the church in the rebuilding program. He and Mrs. Harmeyer later became missionaries to Guam.


During the pastorate of Dr. O. G. Chapman, the property of the J. W. Cockrum Printing Company was acquired and used as an annex, housing many of the Sunday School classes. This property has since been exchanged with Oakland City College for a plot of ground bounded by College, Madison, Sherman, and Mulberry Streets. The new pipe organ was also purchased.

More recent pastors include Rev. Alva Willis, Rev. Glen C. Lashley, Interim Pastor Rev. Robert Miller, Rev. William Brown, Interim Pastor Rev. James McDannel, and Rev. John G. Clanton. A large addition was built during Rev. Brown's pastorate and is used for Sunday School rooms, Day Care School, social activities, and church offices.


1980- This paper was prepared by Lloyd Rinhart, Wendell and Margretta Wiggs.



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