Hopewell Baptist Church

By Gayle Graham Duett

Hopewell Bapstist ChurchBy a request of a number of brethren and sisters, a presbytery convened at Brand School House near Little Rock, Newton County, Mississippi, on September 10, 1898 for the purpose of constituting a Regular Baptist Church. The presbytery was composed of elders H. O. White and W. H. Rainer. Elder H. O. White was selected as moderator and James W. Smith as clerk. Hopewell was selected as the name of the new church.

Elder H. O. White was chosen as the first pastor. The time of meeting was declared as the Saturday before the first Sunday of each month.

Members who united with Hopewell at this first meeting were Brethren J. A. Smith, Sr., C. A. Holyfield (died 1931), A. L. Scott (dismissed by letter May 1913), L. S. Holyfield, James W. Smith (died September 30, 1918), T. R. Overstreet, and J. W. Grantham; also Sisters Nancy Clary (died July 1905), Liddy O. Riche, Mary J. Smith (died November 7, 1904), Mary J. Williamson, Luvy (?) Clary, Laury Scott, Malinda Spangly, Hariet Williamson, Emly Scott, Julia Smith, and Marthy Braswell.

By the end of the first year, the church membership numbered thirty-six. The church had also selected two deacons, W. J. Reece and J. F. Huddleston, the first deacon ordained by the church.

Many of the early members transferred their letters from Beulah Baptist Church or other churches in the area. The membership rolls reflect the following additional members prior to 1917:

W. J. Reece, deacondied 1898

 J. F. Huddleston, deacon

Henry Reece

 Lucy Hudlestondied 1899

Issadora Reece

 Joe Ann Holyfield

Joseefeen Holyfield

 Martha Holyfield, Sr.

Carroline Drew

 W. A. Butlerdied July 20, 1932

Mary Butler

 Missouri Williamson, by baptism

Monroe Scottdismissed by letter

 Almer Scott--dismissed by letter

Sister Elvie Holyfield, baptised 1899

 Margie Overstreet, baptized 1899

Alice Holyfield, baptised n/d

 J. L. Clary, by letter

Louise Smith, by letter

 Willie Estes, by baptism

Sister Leang Smith, baptised

 James W. Williams, by letter

Dorah Williams, by letter, died 6/15/1907

 A. Blackwell, died 8/12/1925

Fanny Blackwell, died 10/25/1934

 Viola Williamson, by baptism

Bro. Elgia E. Smith, baptised, dismissed September 1914

 J. D. Williamson, by baptism

Nellie Deen, baptised

 Ada Butler, baptised.

Joe Williamson, baptised

 Sister Willie Deen, baptized

Thomas Reece, by baptism

 Bro. Sans Estes, dis. by letter August 1904

Bro. Joseph Chesney, by letter 1905, Died November

 Allen Jones, dis. by letter August 1917

 Hariet Jones, dismissed by letter Aug. 1917

Dora Estes, by baptism, Dis. By letter 1909

 W. H. Hareson, by letter

 Sister S. R. Hareson, by baptism

W. H. Braswell, by baptism died October 192_

 Sister Livas Clary

 Andrew Estes, by baptism

Sister Marthir Hollyfield, by letter 1912

 Floyd Blackwell, by baptism

Jim Brazewell, dismissed 1909

 Della Brand

Calie Smith, dismissed by letter 1914

 James Chesney, by baptism; died 1/6/1929

William Strahan, dismissed by letter 1922

Armetta Strahan, dismissed by letter 1922

Dora Chesney, by letter 1903, Died May 1906

 Susie Chesney, dismissed by letter 1927

 Luther Blackwell, by baptism; dismissed by letter Oct 1924

Marvin Williamson

Bro. Willie Townsend

 Bro. Johnnie Estes

Maggie Brand, by baptism

 Mattie Estes, by baptism

Annie Richardson, by baptism

 Carrie Blackwell, by baptism

Nancy Richardson, by baptism

 Sister Elie Beeman, by baptism

Milton Butler

 Caroline Brand, died Sept 1912

Mattie Circy, by baptism, Dismissed by letter 1904

 Mary Estes, dismissed by letter 1907

 Bro. Doss Chesney, dismissed by letter 1908

Bro. Lige Chesney

 Bro. Desmal Butler

Bro. C. K. McMahan, by letter 1906, Died 1928

 Harvie Waldon, by letter May 1905

 Rachal Jones, by letter July 1905

Sister Elgie Blackwell, by baptism, 1905

 Mamie Beman, by baptism 1905

Bro. Marten Taylor, by letter, Aug 1905 

 Sister N. C. McMahan, by letter Sept 1905; died Jan 1922

Sister Crecie Chesney, by letter, Dismissed August 1908

 Elizzebeth Brand, by letter Sept 1906,  died _____

Andrew Estes, Aug 1907

Thomas Richardson, dismissed

 Annie Cooksie, dismissed by letter

Myrtle Williamson, dismissed

The original church building was constructed by James Richardson, Waymon Holyfield, James W. Williams, and J. F. Huddleston shortly after the churchs formation, likely in 1899. Prior to construction of the church building, the Brand School building served as the place of worship.

The new structure served the growing membership well for many years. Its heating system was a wood stove attended by dedicated worshippers during the winter. During the summer, the windows were opened and either a palmetto or paper fan was used to cool the worshippers. A quilt, pallet, or blanket was placed in a corner aisle to provide a safe and restful nursery for infants and small children during services. Oil lamps were placed in strategic corners to give light to the reading of Gods word and the singing of hymns of praise from the shape-note hymnals. An upright piano, purchased in the 1920s, brought enthusiastic praise from worshippers, especially during the protracted meetings held yearly the first week in August, as Gods spirit moved in the harvesting of souls. Miss Fannie D. Rainer was the first pianist.

By the year 1933, the congregation had grown to 204 members.

When the neighboring Liberty Baptist Church was lost to fire, the Hopewell congregation shared its building with the Liberty congregation at an alternate time of meeting.

As Hopewell Church grew, the old building became inadequate and in a bad state of disrepair. During the pastorate of Rev. N. V. Nicholson (1950-1959), a new building was erected to provide the present sanctuary and four classrooms. Much of the raw materials came from donations of lumber, nails, and materials from members and most of the construction of the new facilities came from the donated labor of church members.

Beginning in the early 1960s, the church, under the leadership of Rev. Hulon R. Chaney, reached a membership of 240. At this point, the church agreed to move to a full-time pastorate and to also begin training union. A fellowship hall, nursery, and four additional classrooms were added.

Both church facilities and programs have continued to grow, particularly during the pastorates of Rev. Tommy Anderson (1974-1975) and Rev. Jimmy McDill (1987-Present).

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