Crabtree Baptist to celebrate 200th homecoming Aug. 17

By Barbara Miller | Aug 12, 2014
Photo by: Donated CELEBRATING THE PAST, LOOKING TO THE FUTURE — Pictured is Crabtree Baptist Church in the white, wood-framed building in 1950.

Crabtree Baptist Church, located at 480 Crabtree Road, Clyde, will be celebrating a momentous occasion Sunday, Aug. 17 — its 200th homecoming.

The second oldest church in Haywood County — the oldest being First Baptist Church of Canton, originally called Locust Old Fields Baptist Church when it was established in 1803 — Crabtree Baptist Church began in a one-room log cabin on land given by the McCracken family in 1814. The McCrackens were one of several founding families that included the Rogers, Bradshaws, Welchs and Kirkpatricks.

The log cabin burned down sometime between 1848 and 1856 and early records were lost. The white framed church was built in 1878 and the current brick sanctuary was built in 1963. Refurbishments have been ongoing throughout the years and continue today.

The first pastor was the Rev. John Thomas Snelson. There have been a total of 54 pastors who have served over the years. Several of the pastors were born and raised in Haywood County. The current pastor, the Rev. Matthew Ledbetter, was raised at Calvary Road Baptist. He enlisted in the military, was called to be a minister and served at Hamburg Baptist Church in Jackson County before leading the congregation at Crabtree. He preached his first sermon in May 2009.

Lebetter understands the importance history plays in the foundations of his church.

“Even when the Civil War was going on, the church remained open and active,” he said. “The church never once shut down. It ministered to all who came.”

A very special place in the church is the new History Hall. There are pictures of each pastor who has ever served, along with information about them. There are pictures of the McCracken family displayed along with an old King James Bible and an old pair of glasses from decades ago. Descendents of the founding families still attend the church today. There is also an artist rendering of the log cabin church done by Hazel Johnson.

Lucy Sanford Trantham was asked to take over as church historian in April 2013. She has researched from the very beginning of the church’s establishment in 1814 to the present using Ancestry.com, Newfound Baptist Church’s minutes dated 1814 when they sent the Rev. Snelson to Crabtree, Crabtree Baptist's minute book that dates 1861 to 1892 and “Faith of Our Fathers — Living Still” by Mary Evelyn Underwood. Trantam also interviewed the families of previous pastors.

“It has been so interesting and exciting to have been able to become the historian and research this church that has been my church for the last 25 years,” said Trantham, who grew up at Antioch Baptist Church.

Hazel Johnson and Jamie Kelly were integral to the creation of the History Room, and Trantham's research was greatly aided by the work of previous church historians who  have since passed away — Gertrude Haney Chambers, the Rev. Gay Chambers, Sam Best, and the Rev. Robert Pinkney McCracken. And Ledbetter is interested in keeping church history up to date for generations to come.

The congregation at Crabtree Baptist Church wishes to express its gratitude that God has supplied them with such great men to lead the church and preach the Word.

The public is invited to celebrate the 200th homecoming beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, at the church. The festivities will begin with morning services, which will include several guest speakers and shared memories. A covered dish lunch will follow and a time capsule that was buried in 1989 during the church’s 175th anniversary will be unearthed and opened.

For more information, call 627-8523.

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