Volunteers sought for second cleanup day of historical Pine Mountain cemetery

Published 9:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2022

PINE MOUNTAIN – The Chipley Historic Center (CHC) is recruiting the public to assist with a second Public Clean-Up Day at the historic black cemetery at Pine Mountain’s Bethany Baptist Church.

“Our first cleanup day in April was a great start with 60 volunteers showing up. We just want to continue the momentum,” said Cindy Bowden, CHC vice chair, in 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. 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 scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, May 14.

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

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.

“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.

For additional information, contact Whitney Ligon, a member of both Bethany Baptist Church and the Chipley Historic Center, at (706) 350-9903.