Celebrating Macedonia Baptist Church’s 200th Anniversary
Adventures in the DHC Archives: Celebrating Macedonia Baptist Church’s 200th Anniversary
By Stephanie L. Cherry-Farmer, DeKalb History Center Board member
Macedonia Baptist Church is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its founding this year. Organized at a site approximately three miles northwest of its current location in 1823, the congregation built a church at what is today 3420 Panola Road in 1829, and remains at the site today, in a church building built in 1938. The adjacent cemetery includes graves dating to the mid-19th century. The church is believed to be DeKalb County’s oldest church.
200th anniversary booklet cover, from the DHC archives.
I have a personal connection to this church. Some of my husband’s family are long-time Macedonia members, as were their relatives before them. I have been to the church for service as well as burials. Both as a historic DeKalb County resource, and a place of personal connection, Macedonia holds a special place in my heart.
Despite all this, I didn’t know a great deal about the church’s history. On July 30th, the church held a 200th anniversary celebration, and they invited the Dekalb History Center (DHC) to the event. The fact that Macedonia is in communication with DHC was a good indicator to me that the DHC archives may have some records on the church.
The DHC archives is home to thousands of records documenting all facets of DeKalb County’s history. The records have been donated by individuals, families, businesses, organizations, institutions, and more- so there’s a great diversity of documentation available. You never know what you might find, and the archives are always worth investigating if you are researching DeKalb’s history!
So I made an appointment to visit the DHC Archives to find out what is available that could tell me more about Macedonia Baptist Church. Scheduling an appointment (which is required to research in the archives) allowed DHC archivist Jennifer Blomqvist to inform me up front that they did have some records on the church, so I knew my trip would be worthwhile! She offers flexible appointment times, prepares relevant records before your arrival, and is available for questions during your visit- she makes researching at DHC easy and fun!
I was thrilled to find that Macedonia Baptist Church has clearly had passionate historians as members of their congregation over the years, and as I had hoped, the church has ensured that documentation of their history has made its way into the DHC archives.
The History of Macedonia Baptist Church book cover, from the DHC archives.
Macedonia’s parishioners compiled history booklets in 1923, 1938, 1973, and 1998, in recognition of the church’s 100th, 150th, and 175th anniversaries, respectively. These document what was known about the church’s history these specific times, and provide then-contemporary information and perspective, such as lists of church leadership at the time the document was authored. A number of newspaper clippings, some covering the same milestone or event, provide context on the church’s audience and reach, as well as the variety of area print media outlets at various times. Historical images document the church in the 1980s, 1970s, and 1940s, and document many of its parishioners from the 1940s forward- including my husband’s great grandparents!
Elder church members, 1973. From the DHC archives.
Macedonia Baptist Church is an awesome example of a DeKalb County landmark that treasures and celebrates its rich history, and is ensuring that that history is documented, preserved, and made available, now and in perpetuity. Particularly in the case of institutions such as churches, as time passes and congregation members transition, historical development- which is often recorded informally and by individual members- can be difficult to document. By involving organizations such as DHC in their history and historic milestones, Macedonia is an example of a landmark whose history won’t be lost to time.
(L) Newspaper clipping from 1938 talking about the building of a new church, from the DeKalb New Era. (R) 150th anniversary celebration photos, 1970s. From the DHC archives.
The DeKalb History Center archives is open to anyone interested in DeKalb County history- additional information on scheduling a research appointment, donating materials, and even some digitized collections, is available on the Archives & Research section of the website.
DeKalb History Center is honored to play a role in preserving Macedonia’s historic legacy. Congratulations, Macedonia Baptist Church, and thank you for keeping DeKalb County history alive!
Macedonia Baptist Church, 1980s. From the DHC archives.