and Beginning of Prince Avenue Baptist Church
R. E. Neighbor
From the History of Prince Avenue Baptist Church
1912-1927 by Marguerite Crowley
by Nelle Price Epps
a result of information gathered from a census taken during the summer
of 1912 revealing hundreds of unchurched Baptists and unsaved people,
and feeling the need for another Baptist Church, Mr. W. C. Wingfield
was the guiding spirit in launching plans for a large tent meeting.
A tent was purchased and placed in a vacant lot at the corner of Dougherty
Street and Pulaski Street (site of the First Christian Church). Dr.
R. E. Neighbor was the evangelist, Mr. Charles Butler, the song leader,
Mr. Charles Neighbor, cornetist, and Mr. C. E. Mason personal worker.
The response to the meeting was tremendous and the meeting lasted three
weeks, with many peo;le making public professions of faith. This meeting
also confirmed the belief that a new church was needed. The records
show that many Methodists, Presbyterians, members of the Christian Church,
and Baptists supported the meeting, making it a “Union Meeting.”
On October 6, 1912 resolutions supporting the organization of the new
church were presented to the First Baptist Church of Athens by Judge
A. J. Cobb and were adopted by the church.
One week later, on the Sunday afternoon of October 13, 1912, the new
church was organized with 138 charter members: 110 from First Baptist,
17 from West End Baptist, and 11 from various other Baptist churches.
Including children of families coming from First Baptist, there was
a total of 167, which was about one fifth the size of that congregation.
Participating in the dedicatory program were Dr. E. L. Hill, pastor
of First Presbyterian Church, Rev. W. M. Coile, Winterville Baptist
Church, Rev. Sherman England, Presiding Elder of the Methodist Conference,
and Dr. J. W. Lynch, pastor of First Baptist, who preached the dedicatory
sermon. Following the reading of church letters and the Resolution of
Organization, the new church adopted the Articvles of Faith and the
Church Covenant. When the invitation was given, 30 came for baptism,
39 under watchcare, and 2 by letter.
Dr. R. E. Neighbor was called as the first pastor, Dr. Neighbor was
an outstanding Bible Scholar and was author of a series of books on
prophecy. Rev. Charles Butler became Co-Pastor and Choir Director. Mr.
Butler being an evangelist, he was granted time to be away for meetings.
Rev. John Bomar was called November 13, 1912 to be Pastor’s Assistant
and Superintendent of the Sunday School, which position he held until
July 8, 1914. Mr. Bomar was paid a salary of $85.00 per month ($35.00
from privatae gifts and $50.00 from the State Mission Board.)
Dr. Neighbor preached the decatory sermon. Others assisting in the service
were Dr. J. W. Lynch of First Baptist, Rev. John Bomar, and Mr. Charles
Butler. “The service was tryly a great one, the sermon givig God
the glory and praise for what He had wrought. The pastor spoke with
liberty and I the power of the Spirit and the powere was evidently present.
The usic was a special feature, and feature was ‘The Holy City’,
sung by Mrs, Charles Butler.” (from minutes by J. H. Mapp).
Family names predominant in the early church were Wingfield, Mapp, Brooks,
Campbell, McGregor, Callaway, Thornton, Stephenson, Pendley, Cox Moore,
Moss, Drake, Anderson, Cooper, and Davis.
The church purchased a lot on Childs Street and erected a large ten
in which to hold services until the frame building could be erected.
Plans for the building were adopted February 19, 1913 and the building
was completed at a cost of $18,000.00 The building was dedicated June
15, 1913 and by this time membership had grown to 528. Total church
expenditures the first year were %14,611.21
The Sunday School was organized November 10, 1912 accordiing to “age
and sex.” Weekly Sunday School teachers meetings began November
22, 1912, 35 people braved falling temperatures and snow to attend prayer
services in the tent.
“The membership of the church more than doubled the first year.
The spirit was real and genuine. The church was noted for its faith,
prayer, sacrifice and fellowship” (from History written by Miss
Daisy Drake 1929) Dr. Neighbor served the church until June 1, 1916,
and soon after he and Mrs. Neighbor left on a preaching mission around
to Church Records