| Hepzibah Primitive Baptist Church is better known by
the people of Macon County as "Red Hill Church". This
church is thought to be the oldest in Macon County, if not,
certainly one of the oldest. It is claimed to be to be over
a hundred years old dating as far back as eighteen hundred.
The old church records have been destroyed or misplaced and
the constitution of the church cannot be given, nor the names
of the earliest elders and members.
The house that now (1933)
stands on the old meeting ground is the third one erected.
The first stood farther back from the road than the present
(1933) building. It was a large one-room building made of
logs. The second building was made of logs too, which were
hewed out on the inside and out. Part of this building was
left standing until some years after the present one was erected.
The Timber used for the framework of the present building
was sawed by Hamp Sutton in Sumter County. All the building
except for this framework has since been replaced by new material.
The earliest record found
of the church or church activities is that of 1831. Elder
Sampson English was pastor of the church at this time and
the second log cabin was in use. Elder English came to this
county in 1831 from North Carolina, and was immediately called
to serve Hepzibah Church. (note: Sampson English earliest
residence in Georgia has been determined to be Washington
County since the writing of this story). Sampson ably filled
his place as pastor of this church until August, 1863.
There has been an old deed found that was made 24 June 1853 between A. Black and Marion
County on one part, and Allen E. Sutton and Macon County and
the State of Georgia on the part of the Hepzibah Primitive
Baptist Church. The land was purchased for five dollars and
deeds made out to the church. The land was set aside for the
church building and a community burying ground of three &
a third acres.
The first list of members that composed the Church are found in 1853 records. Names
of the white members then were: Sampson English, Fanny English,
James Clark, Nancy Clark, James Burton, James Goan, Elizabeth
Clark, Martha Cunningham, Sarah Tyler, Tamer Ann Burk, Melinda
McKiney, Joseph McKiney, Anna Reaves, E. P. Partridge, Dorothy
Williams, John A. Williams, and Allen Sutton. The members
o f color were: Fanna Sutton, Sam Black and Charlot Black.
There were many pastors that
served Old Red Hill Church (Hepzibah). Elder Sampson English
served the church until October 1863, at which time Elder
John R. Respess was called and he served for a year. Then
Elder J. G. Murray was called as pastor to serve until October
1878. Elder J. R. Respess was once again called at this time
and served until November 1881, and then Elder S. J. English
served from then until 1884.
In August 1884, the Church
of Hepzibah met in conference and all the members were dismissed,
and it was decided to discontinue meetings at this place.
The members went from Hepzibah to Bluff Springs Primitive
Thirty-four years after this
conference to discontinue meetings at Hepzibah Church, the
members met and decided to hold services there again instead
of at Bluff Springs. The members that came to start the church
again were: Mary Lizzie English, Bethia English, Elizabeth
Park, Irene Athon, Mittie English, Fannie Head, S. J. English,
Emma Philips, Ruth Justice, N. W. Athon, G. C. Gilmore, Estella
Athon, Pearl Gilmore, W. L. Head, Mr. & Mrs. T. J. Livingston,
George Philips, J. A. Adams, C. J. Green & his wife and
probably a few others. Elder W. M. Bullard from Phoenix City,
Alabama was called to serve the church at this time.
In the thirty-four years that the old house was not used it nearly went to ruin and
much repair had to be done before it was ready for services.
This work was done and stands at the present (1933) time.
Elder Bullard served as pastor
until July 1823 when Elder J. A. Bowen of Collins, Georgia
was called to serve the Old Red Hill Church. He ably filled
that place from then until the present (1933). The members
at this time were: Mary Lizzie English, Bethia English, Elizabeth
Park, Irene Athon, Fannie head, S. J. English, Ruth Justice,
N. W. Athon, G. C. Gilmore, Estella Athon, Pearl Gilmore,
Ruth Head, Jessie Webb, C. D. Athon, Janie Smith, Hilda Matthews,
J. W. Aycock, Ella Aycock, Alice Johnson, Carrie Justice,
Catherine Bell, Ophelia Ellis, Myrtle Patrick, Mary Edge,
Emily English, Irene Slappey, Mrs. Strickland, Tressie Lashley,
May Green, David Murray, Frank Head, Della Gibson, Ossie Bell
Adams, Mrs. J. W. Green, and Emma Green.
Hepzibah Church belonged
to Uptoia Association as far back as there is a record until
it discontinued in 1884. Bluff Springs Church also belonged
to the Uptoia Association. In 1899 Bluff Springs went to the
Harmony Association and is a member of that association at
the present time (1933).