Hitesburg Baptist Church to celebrate 100th anniversary Sunday

Hitesburg Baptist Church has had many pastors over the past 100 years, including the Revs. R. E. Peele, Luther Morgan, M. C. Walton, W. W. Reynolds, T. W. Fogleman, E. R. Harris, Ronald E. Rice, E. U. Hoover, Joseph E. Sorrell, Luther S. Bullard, Gilmer Beck, Leo Lowery, Sid Proctor, Bill Salmons, Lee Merck, Bob Watts, Mike Riley, and lan Rigney has been pastor since May 2018. Interim pastors who have served are the Rev. Morgan, Burnett, Puryear, Janes, Merck, Watts and Midgett. On Sept. 1, a total of 185 members were on the church roll.

Hitesburg Baptist Church will celebrate its 100th anniversary with special services on Sunday.

Sunday school will begin at 10 a.m., and worship service will follow at 11 a.m. with lunch to be served after the service in the fellowship hall.

At 1:30 p.m. the congregation will have an afternoon service in the sanctuary featuring several guest speakers and the Hitesburg Men’s Gospel Group singing.

Members of the congregation also will put items in a time capsule, and after the service they plan to bury the time capsule that will be opened 50 years from now on Sept. 22, 2069.

It is glorious for a church to be able to celebrate the existence of ministry for God in a small community and surrounding areas for 100 years, members said.

They said it is their prayer the church and its ministries will be in existence for another 100 years, unless the Lord returns before that time.

The Hitesburg School was established circa 1883, and a two-room school was built. It seems the school building would not only be used as a building for education but also for helping to start a church in the future.

During members’ research, they found a Sunday school was started at the Hitesburg schoolhouse on July 5, 1900 in the earliest record found.

It seems it was “an on and off thing” until maybe 1910, the researchers agreed.

One was organized in May and continued until the first of October and then reorganized in April of 1911 and maybe went until the last of September and then reorganized in April of 1912. During these times a preaching service also took place.

June 4, 1912 Sunday school was held, and members were endeavoring to organize a Royal Ambassador Society. This is the last record researchers found until the brush arbor revival in the schoolyard in 1918 sponsored by the Rev. R. E. Peel, with the cooperation of the entire community.

After the revival, Hitesburg Church was organized.

The following people came by letter from Aaron’s Creek Church to become charter members of Hitesburg Church:

A. C. Forlines, J. C. Forlines, T. F. Forlines, King James Forlines, G. D. Forlines, John L. Forlines, A. C. Hite, Ewell Hite, Leonard Hite, Sherman Hite, J. R. Whitt, R. L Whitt, H. A. Whitt, Marcellus Pulliam, Frank Elliott, Zan Pulliam, C. B. Daniel, H. L. Daniel, John Hite, Sebelle Forlines, Dora Forlines, Elizabeth Forlines, Bessie Forlines, Nannie B. Forlines Hayes, Kate Forlines Smith, Ada Hite, Elmira Hite, Annie Hite, Tressie Hite Overbey, Tessie Pulliam Fosset, Anna Pulliam, Harriett Talley, Macey Newton, Bessie Bowen, Ida Newton, Nannie Overby Daniel, Anna Whitt, Nannie Whitt, Viola Whitt and Fannie Elliott Overby.

Others coming by letter from surrounding churches and upon profession of faith during the revival included M. F. Willard, Allie Hite Hughes, Fred Overbey, Robert L. Hudson, Belle Hudson, Haskin Hudson, H. M. Elliott, Nannie Elliott, Dexter Elliott Smith, Ben Elliott and J. L. Newton, for a total enrollment of 51 charter members.

Other men were involved in church at this time and may have become charter members of Hitesburg Baptist, but they had been called into service in 1917 to fight in World War I and were not discharged from service until sometime in 1919.

R. E. Peel was the first pastor. The first deacon board was composed of J. C. Forlines, chairman, A. C. Forlines, R. L. Hudson, G. D. Forlines and H. A. Whitt. The first trustees were J. C. Forlines, A. C. Forlines and A. C. Hite. The first clerk was G. D. Forlines, and the first treasurer was T. F. Forlines. The church elected J. L. Newton as its first Sunday school superintendent.

The church building was erected in 1919 on a parcel of land donated by M. C. Pulliam.

Tom Forlines and Leonard Hite were the contractors, and they were the first ones who drove the first nails in to build the church. Tom Forlines took a year off from farming, so the church could be built quickly and efficiently. Several gave lumber to help build the church including Ewell Hite and Bob Blanks. A.C. Hite and George Bowen helped saw the timber logs, and still others gave of their time by helping build as well.

Many members of Aaron's Creek Church gave generously to this new building. Members of other churches also helped in the financing of the building.

Hitesburg Baptist Church made an application for membership into the Dan River Baptist Association on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 1920 at the annual meeting held at Aaron’s Creek Baptist Church when the church was received into the association at this time. The delegates present were M. F. Willard and G.D. Forlines.

The clerk of the church was George D. Forlines, and the superintendent was John F. Forlines. The pastor’s salary was $215, current expenses $17, aid of the poor $10, associational fund $3, miscellaneous fund $50, making a total of $295.

In the Dan River Baptist Associational minutes, the church was organized in 1919. There was a total membership of 85. The pastor at this time was W. W. Reynolds, and services were held on the second and fourth Sundays of each month.

The original land for the church cemetery was given to the church by George Bowen. After the church was built, the cemetery was established for the purpose of providing a final resting place for the deceased. The first burial took place in 1921.

In August, 1924, Hitesburg was accepted into the field of Aaron's Creek, Nelson, Florence Avenue and North Fork. Grace Church entered the field in 1927.

Hitesburg has been a church that always tries to help those who are struggling or in need. On July 26, 1928 the church helped pay for someone’s hospital expenses, also the church was forgiving some people of their assessments for the year.

Although the members were very concerned over the needs and comforts of the church, not much progress was made during the Depression years.

In 1947, the two shed roof rooms at the rear of the sanctuary were removed, and a five-room ground floor educational unit was constructed in its place at a cost of $1,500 with members contributing much of the labor.

In 1948, two oil heaters replaced two wood stoves.

In the mid-50s, the ceiling in the educational unit was lowered, and two more rooms were built above the existing five rooms.

The first record of a vacation Bible school was held in 1949. A committee was appointed to plan out and make arrangements for the school. The principal was Margaret Forlines. The pastor at that time was the Rev. R. E. Rice.

A unified budget system was adopted in 1951, which added greatly to the financial growth. The gifts to missions also increased. The church treasurers have been T. F. Forlines, L. T. Hite, A. E. Seamons, John F. Bowen, Thornton Wilkins, Ronald Pulliam, Grayson Wilkins, Donald Overbey, Decatur Overbey and Phyllis Daniel.

In 1951 a recommendation was made for Hitesburg and Nelson Baptist churches to hold services together in a field. Each church bearing half of the expenses and also taking half time.

In 1957, a central heating system was installed.

In 1962, the church building was brick veneered at a cost of $4,090. New furniture and pews were put in when the sanctuary was decorated in 1965. New carpet was laid, and a piano was purchased in 1967.

Sept. 22, 1969 the church held its 50th anniversary.

In 1972, a new addition was built to the church that consisted of a fellowship hall, a kitchen, storage room, four classrooms, library, nursery and two restrooms.

A central heating system, air conditioning and public address system were installed that added a more comfortable, worshipful atmosphere. The work was done by Pool and Overbey at a cost of $25,316.38.

In 1978, after being in a field with Nelson, the deacons from Hitesburg and Nelson worked out a decision that each church would call a full-time pastor. The decision was presented to each church on a Sunday morning for ratification or rejection, and both churches accepted the decision for ratification.

The church voted to hire a full-time pastor and build a parsonage. The land was donated by member Zan Pulliam, and the parsonage was constructed in 1979 by member Jacob Reebals with help from other church members.

The Rev. Leo Lowery was the first pastor to move into the parsonage with his wife and two children.

On Nov. 18, 1984, there was a note burning of the parsonage debt and a dedication of the building.

In 1992 and 1993, the church building was renovated from the very front to the back foyer at a cost of $110,000.

In October of 1992 the furniture from the sanctuary was moved to the fellowship hall, so services could continue during the process of renovation. The work was completed by general contractor Decatur Overbey, who was a member of Hitesburg Baptist Church, and included adding a baptistry and stained-glass windows. Partitions for the two educational rooms in the back were torn out in order to further enlarge the sanctuary, and the choir and “amen corner” were transitioned to enlarge the pulpit area, add a choir loft, choir room and the baptismal area.

Ronnie Bowen painted the mural over the baptistry. Also, at this time the porches were added on each side of the building.

On June 6, 1993 there was a sanctuary dedication. The first baptismal service was held July 18, 1993.

In 2003, an organ was purchased in memory of Ruth Pulliam and Mary Daniel.

The following year, a steeple was installed, and a church van was purchased.

On July 27, 2014, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new fellowship hall building. The church did a number of things to raise money to pay for the building including using the money collected on the fifth Sundays, Harvest Day offerings, loose change, selling the old van for $1,000, people giving memorial money, having bricks engraved and selling in honor of or in memory of a loved one, friends, former members, visitors and businesses.

Decatur Overbey left $100,000 to the church from his estate.

This building was paid in full upon completion in early 2015 with a cost of $427,752. A dedication service was held on March 29, 2015. This building was dedicated to Decatur Overbey and the Rev. Bob Watts, who both passed away during the planning phase.

In 2017 the congregation invited the fire and rescue workers from Midway and Virgilina fire departments to Hitesburg for a service and meal to show their appreciation to them for all they do for others.

Also, in September the Dan River Baptist Association met at Hitesburg for the annual meeting. This is the fourth time since the church was accepted into the association that it has  hosted the DRBA meeting.

In 2018 plans began for the 100th anniversary of the church with a committee preparing for the milestone event. Those on the committee

included Elizabeth Langford, Ruth Overby, Don Loftis, Carolyn Overbey, Jink Overbey, Bonnie Wilson, Betty Hart, Sandra Watts and Deborah Pulliam.

Also in October 2018, a Women’s Conference was held at Hitesburg.

On April 9 of this year, the Dan River Baptist Association held a senior revival for the associational churches at Hitesburg with 194 people attending.

Hitesburg Baptist Church has had many pastors over the past 100 years, including the Revs. R. E. Peele, Luther Morgan, M. C. Walton, W. W. Reynolds, T. W. Fogleman, E. R. Harris, Ronald E. Rice, E. U. Hoover, Joseph E. Sorrell, Luther S. Bullard, Gilmer Beck, Leo Lowery, Sid Proctor, Bill Salmons, Lee Merck, Bob Watts, Mike Riley, and lan Rigney has been pastor since May 2018.

Interim pastors who have served are the Rev. Morgan, Burnett, Puryear, Janes, Merck, Watts and Midgett.

On Sept. 1, a total of 185 members were on the church roll.