year eighteen-sixty five was very significant in the history of the
early Black settlers of the present day Cedar Lane Community. Their
prayers had been answered, they now were free. Overnight, they were
transformed from slaves to free community members.
area was known prior
to 1865 as "
" and was the
land along Caney Creek on the Aylette C. Buckner League in
. The principal land
owner in the area was George John Bowie who had come from
by way of
in 1848. Sugar and
cotton were the principal crops and many slaves were brought by the
landowners to live on the plantations and work the land.
there was an organized church, the banks of Caney Creek became a
common meeting place for the slaves on the various plantations,
according to John Alexander Sidney, who served Shiloh Missionary
Baptist church as the first secretary. "Songs were kept low, as
to not disturb anyone who might consider them offensive. Steal Away
became one of their favorite songs. Because of their trials and
tribulations, they could relate to the song and find comfort in it.
When all else failed, they could steal away to Jesus."
1866, one year after freedom was declared, a few dedicated freed men
and women decided to establish a church where they could worship God.
These men had a dream that some day that they would be free to serve
and worship God as they pleased or desired. They were uneducated men
but they knew God and they put their lives on the altar for Him. With
their little earnings, they supported the cause of Christ. They named
this new church the SHILOH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH taking the name
from the Bible verse found in Joshua 18:1 "And the whole
congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh
and set up the tabernacle there. And the land was subdued before them.
of the leaders and members of that 1866 church were Rev. Dennis Gray,
Rev. Lee Parks, Sr., Bro. Isaac Brooks, Sr., Bro. Jeptna Collins, Bro.
Jupiter Jenkins and his son, Norman; Bro. William Royster and his
children Harriet and Albert; Bro. David Nance, Bro. Griggs, Sis.
, Bro. John Harkless,
Bro. Tempie Harkless, Bro. John and Nancy Sidney, Sis. Fannie Allen,
Bro. Charles Allen, Sis. Irene Spiller, Bro. Isaac Tone, Bro. Jessie
Mills, Bro. Amos Franklin, Bro. Manuel Henderson, Bro. Mamuel Brown,
Bro. Well Page, Bro. Johnnie Henderson, Bro. William Spiller, Sis. Ann
Johnson, Sis. Mary Jane Johnson, Bro. Jessie Clay, Bro. John
Henderson, and Sis. Susanna Norris.
church secretaries who have served through the years are John
Alexander Sidney, Norman Jenkins, Alex Sidney, Sr. (served 43 years);
Alex Sidney, Jr. and Dennis Griggs.
the members who were involved in the formation of
, two need to be
mentioned for their services: Rev. Dennis Gray and John Alexander
Sidney. Rev. Gray (1814-1879) became the first pastor of the church
and donated the land on which the church was built although no deed
was discovered in the research. John Alexander Sidney (1842-1928), the
first secretary, served many years and through his reminiscences and
other early members who kept the church going the church history
survived and was passed on to each succeeding generation. Every member
of that early church took a prominent part in helping to establish the
church and making sure that it would be a success.
first building was built on the land in the A.C. Buckner League
belonging to Rev. Dennis Gray and was set further back from Caney
Creek than the present day church. The storm of 1909 destroyed the
original building and after the storm the second church was rebuilt at
its present location which is only some fifty feet from the banks of
Caney Creek. A bell was given to the church by the white people in the
area and still hangs in the belfry of the second church building which
is adjacent to the present day church. The bell carries the date 1856
and was made by Mieneely's of
. The bell had
different tones and was used to send out messages of celebrations,
deaths, and warnings to the many people living nearby.
cemetery is situated to the side and back of the old and new church
buildings in the shade of a giant oak and pecan trees. Before 1865,
the slaves were buried on the
plantation and other
plantations along Caney Creek before "Freedom." Rev. Dennis
Gray and his wife are buried near the old church under a huge pecan
tree. Gray died on
May 30, 1879
. John Sidney and his
wife, Nancy, are buried nearby with their names carved on homemade
tombstones at the head of their graves.
Rev. Gray who served as pastor 1865-1879, were Rev. Anthony Martin
(1879-1899), Rev. Lee Parks (1899-1926), Rev. F. M. Viola (1926-1958),
Rev. R. Waddy, Rev. F. J. Thompson (1961-1974), Rev. H. T. Aldridge
(1975-1985), Rev. Nathan Johnson (1985-1989), Rev. C. W. Floyd
(1989-1995), and presently Rev. A. L. Edwards (Feb. 1996- ).
Martin became the second pastor of the fledgling church. Norman
Jenkins served as secretary. Under the leadership of Rev. Gray, Rev.
Martin and Rev. Parks the church continued to grow and prosper.
Rev. Viola's leadership the church was enlarged and remodeled, the
first deacons ordained, and the Shiloh Choir organized. Brother Alex
Sidney became the church secretary. The old building still stands in
the shadow of the new structure, all for history's sake.
Rev. Waddy's pastorship, six men were added to the deacon board. The
church's family's spiritual vision to expand came under the leadership
of Rev. Thompson.
1970, the new church building was constructed next to the existing
building and was dedicated for services one year later on
February 6, 1972
. The two-acre tract
on which the new church was built was given to the
by the Van Vleck
School District in 1957. The deed is recorded in Volume 310, page
the tenure of Rev. Aldridge, a combination educational wing,
fellowship hall and living quarters were added. Six deacons were
ordained, and one call to the ministry was answered. After he resigned
in 1985, no major renovations were added except for a new carpet for
1985, with the Rev. Nathan Johnson at the church's helm, youth
organizations and outreach programs were formed, and he became noted
for his active role in the community. The music department excelled in
enhancing the worship services and the church gave birth to three
Johnson was succeeded by Rev. Floyd in 1989, whose leadership inspired
six calls to the ministry and several deacons were ordained. The
church was beautified with a portico. A church van and a Vanhuissen
grand piano were also purchased. Suitable parking areas were provided
with surrounding church landscaping. Other programs were formed, and
additional grave spaces were donated to the
A. L. Edwards, the minister in 1996, serves the church today with the
same dedication and fervor of the early ministers.
is affiliated with
the Lincoln Southern District Association.
is also a member of the Congress of Christian Education,
B.M.E. State Convention of
and of the National
the past 130 years
has provided a place
of worship and also a meeting place for the black community. During
Hurricane Carla, the church became a storm shelter. The church is
always available for weddings, funerals or any event designed to
strengthen the local community. Presently, the church cafeteria is the
meeting place for a church sponsored karate class and an Economic
Action group has headquarters at the church.
church has sponsored a number of outreach programs. With the purchase
of a van, transportation to and from church services is provided to
the elderly and other members. The pastor and deacons will administer
the Lord's Supper to sick and shut-in members at their homes. Under
the leadership of the Missionary Society the members are visited
frequently. Also, the brotherhood takes an active role in providing
outreach sermons. Each summer the church sponsors a week-long
are many group activities for all ages. Probably the most well known
is the singing ministry provided by the Field Singers who are known
area. Although some
of the Fields family has moved to distant locations, the group and
most of its members originated at
church sponsors several choirs. Among these are the Youth Choir, the
Young Adult Choir, the Adult Choir, the Men's Choir and the Combined
Choir. The church sponsors a drill team and a youth praise dance
group. The church annually sponsors a Thanksgiving dinner, and Easter
and Christmas programs. The church is blessed with a strong board and
served a very large
area. When first organized,
was the only church in the Cedar Lane Area where Black people could
worship. Therefore, people from all the surrounding communities came to
. Later, as other
churches were organized in the surrounding black settlements, the church
became more community oriented.
1900 and up until the 1930s the church building was also used for a
school. Two of the early teachers were Willie Hillard and Mary Brown.
The school met in the church and later came to be known as the "
" named for a
county school superintendent. Later a School was built where the
present-day church now stands. In the 1894-95 school census of
almost 100 children
are listed for the
have been many significant events held at the church. Annual day
programs, weddings, funerals, workshops, revivals, special dinners at
Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas programs as well as Black History
programs. The annual homecoming program held each third Sunday in
September is the highlight of all the events as former members come from
far and near to celebrate their heritage, to renew old acquaintances and
thank God for His providence and goodness of the past 130 years for
their SHILOH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH!