Volunteers needed for clean-up at Bethany Baptist Church cemetery

Published 1:30 am Sunday, April 17, 2022

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PINE MOUNTAIN – The Chipley Historic Center (CHC) is recruiting the public to assist with a public clean-up day at the historical black cemetery at the Pine Mountain Bethany Baptist Church, according to a press release.

“As we continue to help our community better understand those who came before us, it is important to protect the heritage of the places and things that share that information such as a cemetery,” said Cindy Bowden, CHC vice chair.

“Here at the Center, we have more and more people coming to do genealogical research on their families. Having our historic cemeteries – all our cemeteries – cleaned up and kept up is very important and a great reason for all our citizens to help. Let’s keep all of Pine Mountain ready for guests.”

The clean-up day is slated to start at 9 a.m., Saturday, April 23, and will continue throughout the day.

The church cemetery is located at 16331 GA-18, Pine Mountain, Georgia, 31822.

Church members will be providing hot dogs, hamburgers, side dishes, desserts, and drinks. All are welcome. Participants are asked to wear work clothes and shoes and to bring whatever tools that may be necessary (clippers, weed eaters, etc.). Parking will be in the church lot and, when it is full, across the street at the recycling center.

“It is important to preserve the past, which helps to shape the present and future generations,” said Josephine Bray, a member of Bethany Baptist Church.

The church was established on June 12, 1877. According to the “History of Bethany Baptist Church,” compiled by Lillian D. Champion, originally, “Slaves of plantation owners attended Bethany with the white families. They were accepted into church membership, were baptized, and many were buried in a portion of the old cemetery.”

The history documents the church meeting in several locations. Some of those locations include the services taking place in a freight house purchased by the congregation in February of 1885, which was moved to a piece of land purchased on the south of the road.

On March 24, 1908, the church was destroyed by a storm that left only the floor where the church stood. Through members and community contributions Bethany was rebuilt, during which time Mt. Zion Church opened their doors and allowed the Bethany Church family to meet there. On June 8, 1952, Bethany remounted the church cornerstone.

While the church has remained in the same location since then, the facilities have been upgraded under the leadership of Reverend William Robinson, who became the pastor on May 12,2001 and continues in that role today.

Whitney Ligon, a member of both Bethany Baptist Church and the Chipley Historic Center, shared about why she is excited to participate in this project, “It is important to preserve the legacy of our ancestors, and cemeteries are our tangible connections to the past.”

For more about the CHC, visit https://chipleyhistoriccenter.org/, call (706) 663-4044, or email info@chipleyhistoriccenter.org. The Center is located at 146 McDougald Ave., Pine Mountain.