Damascus Baptist Church
Graceville, Jackson County, Florida
October 2000 Survey
with Pictures and History
From: John W Cooley
DAMASCUS BAPTIST CHURCH, GRACEVILLE, JACKSON CO, FLORIDA
Remembering the Past . . .
Damascus Baptist Church has a special place in the community life of the area that now includes Graceville for over one and a quarter centuries. One reason is that Damascus was recognized as a religious and educational center before Graceville was founded.
Damascus Baptist Church was organized on August 19, 1865, just as the Civil War had ended and the days of reconstruction were beginning.
The church, organized in Williams School House, a little log building, on what is known as Carmichael Hill southwest of the present building had twenty-one charter members. These known charter members were granted letters of dismissal from the Campbellton Baptist Church for the purpose of organizing a church in Williams School House. These members were: King White, Felix Harden, Isaiah Williams, Mary Williams, Martha Williams, Thomas Tarrence, Matilda Tarrence, James Hawthorn, William Nash, Margaret White, Elizabeth Grant, Rebecca York, Sarah York, Sarah Courtney, Elizabeth York, Sarah Vickers, Elvira Terby, C. C. Barefoot, Martha Grant and Fereby Grant.
Pastors helping to organize the church were Rev. M. Osborn, Rev. W. M. Howell, Rev. M. A. Collier and T. L. Domany.
Shortly after the church was organized, it was moved to a location just north of the present site, where the congregation built a combination church and school building. Since the land was part of the public domain, the church did not secure a deed for the property. A few years later J. S. Heisler established a homestead on the land where the church was located, and he deeded the church a five-acre site, receiving $5 an acre for his land.
Soon the members of Damascus Baptist Church erected a building to be used solely for a church. This was built of timber hewn with an old-fashioned broadaxe. The old log building continued to be used as a school.
Damascus soon came to be recognized as an educational as well as a religious center. Schools were few and widely scattered, so students from distant communities boarded with Damascus families to attend school.
In 1897, another building was constructed and was dedicated on the third Sunday in June of that year.
An eight-room modern pastorium was built in 1950 on a track of land donated to the church by J. S. Heisler. Rev. E. H. S. Beall and family were the first to occupy the pastorium.
Our present building was erected in 1952 under the pastorate of Rev. E. H. S. Beall. In 1954, more room was needed and under the leadership of Rev. J. R. Morrow an educational annex, including classrooms, fellowship hall and restrooms were added.
In 1959 during the pastorate of Rev. Rayford Duck another educational annex was built.
In 1963 our auditorium was enlarged during Rev. J. M. Gantt, Jr.'s pastorage. The baptistery was completed at that time also.
Brother Johnny Boyd served as our pastor from 1964-1966. During this time, we celebrated our Centennial on August 22, 1965.
Brother Davis Black came as our pastor in 1967 and stayed until 1980. In 1971 the fellowship hall was added to our church and in 1976 the new pastorium was built.
Reverend Chester Padgett served from 1981-1984.
From 1984-1987, Rev. Rayford Duck served as pastor of Damascus Baptist Church. On Sunday, January 25, 1987, the church building caught fire and damaged the sanctuary and office extensively. Repairs and renovations were soon begun. In the sanctuary, new windows and carpet were installed and the pews were refinished and padded. All repairs were finished and the sanctuary was dedicated on Homecoming Day in August of that year.
From 1988 to 1990, Rev. Jeff Flowers served as pastor. Then Rev. Lynn Dixon was pastor from December 1, 1990 through February 1991, when he resigned for personal family reasons.
Rev. Thomas Steward served as pastor from February 24, 1992 through, June 26, 1994. During his pastorate, new carpet was installed in all educational buildings. Additional restrooms were added in the educational buildings and restrooms were renovated in the felloeship hall. A new ice machine was purchased for the kitchen.
Brother Michael Ohaneson served as interim pastor until July 2nd when Reverend Marcus Caraway began his pastorate at Damascus.
Web Page by
Betty James Smith
31 Oct 2000