The History of Prospect Missionary Baptist Church
Webster defines history as a written record of past and present events. The history of Prospect Missionary Baptist Church gives to us the plan that God had for our church in days passed and days to come.
Our church comes out of Shiloh Baptist Church, which was located in beautiful West Armuchee Valley, East of LaFayette, Georgia. It began with ten charter members; one was a colored slaved, Omey, servant of Col. James Thomas Young. From 1839 until 1859, there were several colored members who were slaves.
In 1860 after the Civil War, the colored people left Shiloh and formed their own church, called Prospect, which was near Shiloh and remains very strong today. Many refused to join, however, and remained as members of Shiloh until their deaths.
In August 1870, our church was organized in the community of West Armuchee Valley in LaFayette, Georgia. Mr. William McWilliams, a former captain in the Civil War, gave permission for the church to be built on his farm. This brush arbor was about one mile from Highway 143, which is now Highway 136.
Prospect’s first pastor was Reverend James “Jim” Cornelius Young followed by Reverend Wiley Marsh. The first deacons were John Bailey, Alonzo Barnett, Isaac Hawkins, Anthony Lawrence, Jacob “Jake” Madden, Ed Shropshire and Hiram Stamper. Other pioneer deacons were, Spencer Puryear and John Young. The early church enjoyed great growth even during times of difficulty in a changing racial culture.
The church is currently located on land donated by the JC and Frank McWilliams farm. A small wooden building was built. The front of the church faced toward the north. Many years passed and many souls were saved. There were many home goings of our church family. Our present block structure was built in 1950 under the leadership of Pastor Ralph G. Gardner. This building faces the East instead of North.
In the past, services were held on the third Sunday of each month. In later years, service was held on the first and third Sundays. At the present time, service and Sunday school are held every Sunday.
Various ministries were organized in past years: Senior Choir, Gospel Choir, Male Choir, Little Voices Choir, Usher Board, Mother Board, Trustee Board, Mission, Beautifying Club, Young Men’s Organization and the Praise Dancers. A Public School for Walker County was held in the church until 1949. This school was First (Premier class) through the Seventh grade.
On December 15, 2013, our new Pastor, Rev. Jefferey Scott Copeland, officially accepted the call to Pastor Prospect Missionary Baptist Church.
Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint. Through it all, God has indeed brought Prospect from a mighty long.