HISTORY OF PILGRIMS REST BAPTIST CHURCH
Transcribed by Betty Olson
By Gertrude Pierce, written - October 1957
Nov. 11, 1854, seven people, claiming the promises that, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there will I be also” were led by Jacob Hudspeth and James Williams to organize the Pilgrims Rest Baptist Church. They adopted eleven “Articles of Faith” that explain simply and clearly the beliefs of the Baptist religion. The ten Rules of Decorum that were adopted made clearly the conduct expected of the church members as well as the church as a unit. The pioneer leader and as to of this little band of God’s servants was on whom some of us remember our parents speaking of as “Uncle Billy McKay”.
The first article in the “Rules of Decorum” calls for church services at least once a month and it is presumed these services were held in homes or any place available for three years or until 1857 when the first church building was built. Legend has it that this log building was located some distance up the road from where the present building now stands. How long the building was used, we do not know, but sometime later the necessity arose and a building was erected in what is now part of our cemetery. It has been said that one of the veteran church workers of the past known to most of as “Uncle Jim Haley Couch” that he be laid to rest in the cemetery in the spot where his favorite seat in the church had been.
During these early days of our church the workers were counseled and guided by my Great Grandfather Elder Washington Stevens.
The present building was built when the need arose, about 1896, and has been improved from time to time. It was built by Millard Huskey and John Pierce. In 1908 a granitoid porch was built in the front with the initial cost of $14.85. James and Louis Herrington did the work and were awarded a card of thanks from the church. The same year a move was started to get a well drilled. It took quite some time to make the necessary arrangements and get the work done.
The first record of Sunday morning offering was entered Sept. 2, 1911 according to the records the church was financed by solicitation prior to this time.
December 13, 1913, Brother George Elders completed the deeds to cemetery, “meaning additional land which he donated”, and the first Trustees, L. D. Johnson, L. M. Baker and T. E. Huskey were appointed to take care of the interests of “The City of the Dead”.
Prior to 1905 some of the pastors wee the Reverends William McKay, George Stevens and Elisha Eaves.
Feb. 3, 1903 the church voted to have the church discipline and church covenant read every month for four months and thereafter have them read every three months. On August 4, 1906, the church saw fit to select J. R. Evans, J. P. Couch and Jeptha Long as their Deacons.
The first record of mission pledge was made Sept. 1, 1906 and the amount was $10.00.
The Rev. E. J. Hamrick held the pastorate from 1905 until 1907 when Rev. A . G. Had ley became pastor at the salary of $35.00 for the year? A year later, Rev. E. J. Eaves became pastor with a salary of $ 6.00 per month. It will be remembered that although services were held on a once a month basis, this consisted of business meeting and preaching services Saturday afternoon and preaching Sat. Evening, Sunday morning services and also Sunday evening services.
Most of these faithful pastors left their homes and often families and occupations on Saturday morning to travel by horseback or buggy to the community and remained among their flock for the week end, often making the return trip home Monday morning. Although worship services were only once a month, considering the entire week-end was devoted to worship. It seems to have totaled close to the time we devote to worship at the present in our rushed way of doing things.
Rev. E. J. Short was the next to hold then pastorate for two years, when Rev. E. J. Eaves was called back for three year term. Following him, Rev. J. P. McKay held the pastorate for three years, followed Rev. E. J. Short again. Then there was Rev. Price McKay followed by our beloved Rev. E.J. Hamrick who was faithful to his followers for a number of years.
Rev. Henry Richardson was our pastor for a while when he first began is ministry and he resigned in favor of Bro. C. A. Wainscott but returned again after a number of years.
Rev. Henry Richardson
It was while under the leadership of Rev. Johnnie Williams that our church went to twice a month services. It was under the leadership of the Rev. N. Hackley and A. A. Braungardt’s pastorate our church to participate in the activities at Bates Creek Baptist Camp. It will be remembered that some of our young folk found Christ while at camp there.
During Rev. Braungardt’s pastorate twelve years another basement was put under our building; with the aid of willing workers and the financial support of the good people in general of our community. The furnace and other general improvements came in succession through the efforts and ingenuity of our willing workers.
The Rev. Jack Hunter was our leader for some time, leading us to a broader understanding of Gods work and further improvements of His property
It was during the pastorate of Bro. Charles Thomas that our church went to full time services when he said that he would “be here” to preach every Sunday, whether he got paid or not. A measure of credit is also due Bro. Thomas for his interest in young people and recognizing their part in the church. His successor, Bro. Earl Gooch from Festus, was also very interested in the young people and motivated the move to have their talents and abilities activated for the Lord with their church work. They soon became a vital part of the Worship Services as well as the business and the recreational activities.
Wishing to retire from active pastorate work, Bro. Gooch gave up his work here; to do interim work wherever he was needed and has been busy most of the time since. Bro. Douglas McGlaughlin came to us from the Bethlehem Church. It was during his pastorate that the young people of the church inspired by a generous donation from a De Soto undertaker; pooled their class resources and their physical efforts in solicitation which incidentally included collecting and selling scrap iron) to buy a piano which we are now using.
In the very recent years the Lord has seen fit to call to their reward some of our members who have reached their 80th mile stone. Namely Mrs. J. E. Huskey in whose home more ministers have been entertained more times than in any home here-about’s. There was Mrs. Anna Pierce, Mrs. Janis Blicker and Mr. Jeptha long, each having been members of our church for many years. We would also like to pay tribute to the late Bro. Walter Montgomery who was our treasurer for many years as well as a member of the mission board and a veteran Sunday school teacher. Mrs. Mary Hopson who was member of the church for 68 years, She was the church clerk for a number of years. She was called to her reward just a short time ago.
One event that is outstanding in my memory was one Sunday morning a number of years ago when Mr. and Mrs. George Blake and quite a few members of their family attended church services herein commemoration of their 60th wedding anniversary . On February 18, 1951 our church as the scene of a Golden Wedding vows of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Pierce renewed their wedding vows before God and a host of friends and relatives, with the Rev. Jack Hunter officiating.
The Jefferson County Baptist Association met with our church in 1990, 1889, 1900, 1917, 1934 and 1948 when one of our faithful workers Bro. John Couch was the clerk. We would also recognize Bro. Emil Siebels who took over the care of the cemeteries a few years ago and transformed it from a dilapidated condition a credit to the memory of or loved ones.
Sometime near the year of 1916 the practice of having a “Children’s Day” and “ Memorial Day” services on the first Sunday in June, with all day services was started. The memorial services were conducted by the Modern
Woodman Drill team in memory of M.W.A. members buried in our cemetery. From this practice our present “Home Coming Day” originated.
We believe our two oldest members at present are Mrs. Mary Whitesell, who is 94 and Mrs. Ben Ottomeyer who is 84 years old. Our present membership is 115.
The present church officers are Rev. Douglas McLaughlin, Pastor; Mrs. Lester Brinley, S.S Supt. Mrs. Jesse Meyers, Treasurer, Miss Shirley Siebels, Clerk and Mrs. Oscar Wideman, Training Union Director. Our four Deacons are Brothers, Oscar Wideman, Edwin Hopson, Lester Brinley and John Couch. Our pianist for many years has been Bro. Adolph Eaton.
In conclusion we invite you all to worship with us and we solicit your prayers that our church might glorify our maker and truly be a “Light house on a hill, to the unsaved and an anchor for the Christians”.
Additional information for the Centennial - written June 1968
On Oct. 27, 1957 we held our centennial celebration with Bro. Douglas McGlaughlin bringing the morning message and Rev. Hammon from Festus brought the afternoon message. A day of fellowship and reminiscing included much love and inspiration was enjoyed by a large crowd of people. It was during the year of 1957 the church adopted the plan of giving each child a Bible when it became a member of a junior Sunday School Class. It might be interesting to know how many juniors thus owned their first Bible. This was also the year need for a new church building became apparent and the movement to that effect was started.
On June 1, 1958 Bro. Douglas McGlauglin left the church to go to school and Bro. Clyde Spurgin came to be our pastor. In August of 1957 the site for the new church building was staked off and approved by the church. The general public was very generous with the various donations. These included money, labor, material and too many things to be named. The new church building was dedicated on May 15, 1960. One of the donations recognized on dedication day is the Oran. It was donated to our church in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Siebels by the Foster Family. The project took a lot of work, planning, soliciting, investigating and cooperation. We are grateful to all who helped and the Lord has surely approved for He has blessed the efforts put forth.
On June 1st 1965 the church reluctantly accepted Bro. Spurgin’s resignation and Bro Earl Lynn came to be our pastor, who was ordained to the ministry a short time later. In March of 1966 due to a serious illness he was obliged to resign. The church then called Bro. Hoard Priest in July. He was with us 15 months during which time work continued on the church building and work was started on the parsonage. In Nov. of 1967 Bro. Priest turned I his resignation and went to a church in Illinois. During the months that followed, Bro. Argent from De Soto was our interim pastor. In Jan. of 1968 Bro Van Fowler came to be our pastor and about March 1st moved into the new parsonage. A brief outline of the church activities include Sunday morning Sunday School and Worship Hour & Sunday Evening Training Session and Worship Hour. Wednesday night, we hold Prayer Meeting and Family night. We have Soft Ball in the summer. We observe Easter with Sunrise Services alternately with Grubville and Bethlehem Churches. Home Coming is the 1st Sunday in June and we have and we have a Sunday School Picnic on the 1st Sunday in June and we have an annual Sunday School picnic in the Fall.
Since the Centennial, there have been a total of 20 of our members called to eternity. To the best of my knowledge or oldest member at present is Mrs. Pearl Brauch who was 88 years last December. Mrs. Brauch was a former resident of our community and lived in Centralia, MO.
Our church has been the scene of several beautiful weddings since the Centennial and also several precious Golden Weddings. Those celebrating their Golden Weddings were, Mr. & Mrs. Dexter Russell, Mr. & Mrs. A. H. Eaton, Mr. & Mrs. John Couch, and Mr. & Ms. Oscar Wideman. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Pierce were recognized by the church at morning services on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary.