October 16, 2022
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
The following excerpts were written by Rev. Geo. G.N. MacDowell for the Wesleyan Christian Advocate dated September 3, 1881. Rev. MacDowell chronicled his journey while working with Rev. W.D. McGregor in the newly created Cobbtown Mission, which was formed in Emanuel, Tattnall, and Bulloch counties by the South Georgia Conference in 1879. This ministerial work reminds me that we are a people of true faith who went gratefully into the wilderness with nothing more than the belief in God’s promise. What’s Old Is New Again.
“The Cobbtown Mission was established December, 1879. It embraces parts of Emanuel, Tattnall, and Bulloch counties, covering an area of at least a thousand square miles. With the exception of a few missionary Baptist churches, this territory for many years has been under the influence and control of the Primitive Baptists, who are noted for their opposition to advanced education, Sunday schools, and to all other Christian Churches.”
“On Sunday morning I preached in a pine grove to a congregation estimated at a hundred or more; some sitting in buggies, some on rude puncheons, and others reclining on the grass. At the close of the service brother McGregor organized a church composed of six members, three of whom were contributions from the church in Savannah. Brother Rustin was appointed class-leader and steward. After dinner I baptized some children and preached again at night.”
“Two and a half miles distant from Rustin’s, the Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church is located; said to be the largest and strongest church of that sect in the county. Across the road from this church is the Black Creek Academy owned by Mr. John B. Goodman, whose parents were Primitive Baptists. The good Spirit put it into the heart of this young man to give us that academy building and an acre of ground – for church and school purposes. I drew up the deed in accordance with the instruction of the Discipline and had it properly signed and witnessed.”
“The establishment of Methodist preaching, right under the shadow of the Primitive Church – will doubtless stir up some animosity; and brother McG was laughingly told that he would either have to fight or run. He will do neither; but preach the simple and pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, where it is sorely needed and seldom heard.”
“We traveled through the country, visiting and praying with several families, and I preached every day – sometimes twice a day – under the pines or in private houses, to small, but seemingly interested congregations. Brother McGregor is the right man for this work. He is highly esteemed by the people, and abundant in labors. He has one church in process of building, and the materials for another are being prepared, but his field is too large for one man and should be divided. While he has “boarded around,” he has received from his charge only thirteen dollars this year. But the Lord will provide for him, and I doubt not, will make him a blessing to the people.”
From this humble beginning in the early 1880s came many vibrant and wonderful churches. And whether the mission was called Cobbtown or Quince, whether it was in the Dublin district or the McRae district, or whether it was even mentioned in that year’s journal, these churches were built by strong and faithful farming families and led by devout Methodist preachers who simply believed in God’s promise of love and support.
The Ministry of Memory remembers the work of Eason’s Chapel, Collins, Mt.Carmel and Cobbtown, who at one time worked with the Cobbtown Mission, and all of the churches of the South Georgia Conference. May we also remember their abundant faith and also go gratefully into the wilderness believing in God’s promise.
Anne Packard serves as Conference Historian and director of the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum on St. Simons Island. Contact her at email@example.com.