Cornith Primitive Baptist

Charlton County
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Org 1880s
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Photography by Randall Davis

Corinth is a member of what is broadly known as the Wiregrass Primitive Baptist sect that is concentrated in a few counties in south Georgia in what is known as the Wiregrass Region. The churches are easily recognizable by the common architecture and the fact that they are all unpainted. These Primitive Baptists share a common belief that decorative embellishments detract from the purpose of worship and therefore are not part of the sanctuary in any form. The movement began in the early 1800’s and continues through today, although still concentrated in the same geographical region. We are grateful to Elder Jason Deal for providing so much information about this little known religious grouping and the vernacular that they use. All direct quotes are attributable to him.

The Wiregrass Primitives are organized by Associations and are further delineated by Factions which generally come about over different interpretations of the Primitive Baptist theology. During the 1870’s the churches of the Alabaha River Association underwent a split over the Georgia Homestead Act, passed during Reconstruction. Part of the members, led by Elder Reuben Crawford, supported the Act, and the remainder, led by Elder Richard Bennett, did not. The members who followed Reuben Crawford became known as Crawfordites. Due to the austerity of Crawfordites we have a few of their meeting houses that survive very much as they were, in the case of Corinth, in the 1880’s. Further spits occurred over time and eventually Corinth Primitive Baptist Church became part of the Elder Sammy Hendrix faction that broke away from the Crawford line in 1952.

Corinth Primitive Baptist Church was Elder Hendrix’s home church. Elder Hendrix ‘took off’ Corinth, Emmaus and Mount Olive (Ware) Primitive Baptist Churches with him. When he died in 1987, the faction basically folded. He was the only Elder all of the time they were ‘apart’ (from the other churches they had been in fellowship before the split). “Without a pastor, no one was able to go into the stand” (the pulpit). At his funeral his casket was placed on the stoop of the church and the congregation sang hymns. The lack of a more formal service was prevented by the lack of an Elder, Brother Hendrix having been the only one. An Elder from a church outside the Hendrix faction was not acceptable as they were not in fellowship with any other churches. “There was a viewing (which is a standard for old line funerals) and at the end he was taken to the church yard cemetery for burial.” When the faction ‘folded’ the churches disbanded. They could not go on without an Elder to administer the ordinances of the church. Even though Mt. Olive was ‘taken up’ again by the Alabaha River Association (Crawford), it disbanded first. “Most of the remaining members of the Hendrix faction eventually reunited with the Crawford faction. The Crawford faction then took back up Mount Olive in Ware County and it was restored to fellowship. That has only happened since 1996.”

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