New Hope Baptist Church celebrates 160th anniversary

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Final Destination Quartet performs Nov. 16 at New Hope Baptist Church. Jason Johnston/

Slaves started church in late June of 1854

New Hope Baptist Church commemorated 160 years at the same location with a Thanksgiving meal and a gospel concert featuring Final Destination Quartet.

Jim Jones, trustee, treasurer and clerk at New Hope, recounted the church's history to the congregation at the Nov. 16 celebration.

Slaves and their owners organized the church in late June 1854, according to an historical document about New Hope. The first church was a log house.

"The timbers were cut and hewn and most of the construction work done by slaves belonging mostly to the Higgs," according the document. "John Higgs was the chief slave-holder. This building had a fireplace and puncheon seats."

The first preacher licensed by the church was Archa, a slave owned by John Higgs. Both men were charter members.

Jones said he does not know what happened to the original building. It may have been destroyed during the Civil War. The church has had 38 pastors, with two preachers each having two separate stints with New Hope.

The current flagstone building, built in 1939, is the fourth church at the location, which is between Butterfield and Wheaton. People can get to the church by traveling three miles west of Highway 37 on Highway W and going 3/4 miles north on Farm Road 1052.

Jones, 53, has been with the church his entire life.

He and his sister, Donna Talbert, were baptized in 1972 near the church at Pogues Creek.

The 160-year celebration was nostalgic, said Jo Ellen Stults. She and her husband, Pastor Charles Stults, have led the congregation for almost 10 years.

At the Nov. 16 event, Jo Ellen Stults told the congregation that Ralph and Betty (Higgs) Lambert, who lives on Highway W, donated a large rock that was used as a step at the original church.

New Hope also does a lot of mission work in the community, she said.

The church hosts Celebrate Recovery, a drug rehabilitation and addiction program, for both men and women at 6:30 p.m. every Friday. The program is based on the eight Beatitudes found in Matthew and the Christ-centered 12 steps toward recovery.

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