Submitted by Nelle Price Epps
Excerpts From the History of
Ebenezer Baptist Church
by Ethel Hardeman Johnson
Depending upon one’s perspective, the history of Ebenezer, formerly known as Landrum Chapel Baptist Church, can lead to or stem from the history of Baptists in Athens.
In 1830, the first church for Baptists was established in Athens. It was called Athens Baptist Church, and it was located on the corner of Broad and Lumpkin Streets. Although Athens Baptist Church was operated by Whites, Blacks were received as members.
In 1849, a meeting house was built for the Blacks. It was called African Baptist Church, and it was located on the corner of Mitchell and Thomas Streets. The Blacks had expressed an interest in having a separate building; however, the presence of this building did not mean that the two races worshiped separately thereafter. The African Baptist Church just permitted a greater concentration on that portion of the church. Whites also attended the worship services of African Baptist Church, and the conferences held there were recorded chronologically with conferences at the White church.
Shortly after the end of the Civil War, the Black members decided to separate from Athens Baptist Church and form an independent church. Hence, on April 7, 1867, at a conference held by them, a question of separation was presented. On May 4, 1871, Athens Baptist Church authorized the Blacks to sell the African Baptist Church building and to use the proceeds for a new building.
Available documents do not reveal the next owner of the African Baptist Church building. However, the records do indicate that the structure was used for Landrum Baptist Church, a biracial church, and for factory workers. Records of Ebenezer refer to the abandoned building on Mitchell and Thomas Streets. Additionally these records refer to 1878, the year the structure was not being used. During that year, The Reverend Collins Henry Lyons and a few others met in it and organized Landrum Chapel Baptist Church, later in 1889, named Ebenezer Baptist Church. Winnie Moore, the great aunt of Theresa Flanagan was in the group.
On November 15, 1881, Landrum Chapel Baptist Church became the birthplace of Jeruel Academy an educational entity later named Jeruel Baptist Institute, Union Baptist Institute, and Union. The institution was the guiding star for many young people in Northeast Georgia until 1956, the year it merged with the Clarke County School District.
Documents and oral accounts do not give specifics on the first three men who succeeded the Reverend Lyons, the founder and pastor; however, one can conclude that they helped to create a viable program. They were the Reverends J. A. Walker, J. W. Scott, and D. C. Bracy.
In 1898, the Reverend J. H. Horton became the pastor. Under his leadership, in 1921, Ebenezer purchased a portion of the present property, (corner of Reese and Chase).