Dorothy Hale-Smith, left, leads a Sunday school lesson at the historic James Creek Missionary Baptist Church as part of an annual service to honor its former members. After the church disbanded in the early ‘90s, its members joined Spring Creek M.B. Church. In 2010, Dwight Stevens had the James Creek building moved and restored.

ABERDEEN – In 1991 with only seven members, James Creek Missionary Baptist Church dissolved. Twenty years later, the crumbling church building got a second chance at life as Dwight Stevens had it moved from Darracott to the Adams-French House’s property.

Bro. George W. Vance of Spring Creek M.B. Church, James Creek’s sister church, led a dedication service in October 2012, and he leads an annual tradition to memorialize and honor those who worshipped there for more than a century.

“After Mr. Stevens got the church and moved it to its current site, we got with him and thought it’d be good to have a service there. I believe we were the first church to have a service there,” said Dorothy Hale-Smith of Prairie.

She became affiliated with the church through her grandparents who worshipped there. Her uncle, Henry Rodgers, was a faithful deacon at James Creek and every year, he read the church’s history on its anniversary. According to research she has, the church organized in 1870 under a brush arbor.

One of the church’s deacons, Nate Whitfield, and the first pastor, Rev. Parker, were instrumental in the building’s construction in 1905.

The church’s pastors through the years were Rev. John Richmond, Rev. Joshua Whitfield, Rev. Sykes, Rev. C.W. Wise, Rev. James Gettis, Rev. G.C. Irons, Rev. Willie Benson, Rev. Earnest Ward, Rev. Morgan Pulliam and its last pastor, Rev. Joe West Clay, who served more than 30 years.

The last remaining members were Deacon Curtis Outlaw, Flora Outlaw, Shonda Outlaw, Spenchea Outlaw, Nemiah Hale, Lula Bell Rodgers-Sacus and John Henry Johnson.

“There are several families associated with the church throughout the years,” Hale-Smith said. “There was also a James Creek school, which was a one- or two-room school in the ‘30s and ‘40s.”

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