In 1865, the Civil War had been fought and won by the Union and the slaves were freed. This freedom meant that the former slaves were able to form their own churches. Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church had its beginnings in a small log cabin, on what is now known as Canton Highway in the Gritters District of Cobb County, Georgia. Our first recorded name was “Liberty Hill Colored Church”. No one knows if this is not name of that first church nor do we know why the church was moved from Canton Highway to its current location. But like churches of that era, its cemetery was a part of its location. The cemetery remains on the original church site and is named Ebenezer or in some records Old Ebenezer Cemetery.
Because of a succession of fires, our records of our early church were lost. But what is known is that there is a deed written June 18, 1873 and recorded in Cobb County April 13, 1889. It conveyed the present site of one acre of land for a church. This deed transferred the property from James Barnett Blackwell to Joe Grisham (Gresham) and Trustees for the sum of five dollars. According to the 1880 census, Joe Grisham (Gresham) was a sharecropper farming in Marietta and lived near J. B. Blackwell lands. It is thought that this is the relationship which may have precipitated the transaction for the church. The deed further states that if the land is no longer used for worship and church purposes then the land reverts to J. B. Blackwell and his descendants.
Sometime in the early 1900’s, when the church building was a small one room structure with a wood stove, a school was attached to the church for the education of the children of the community of farmers. It, too, was a one room classroom serving all of the grades. There were formal teachers who taught in the school but many times it was the older students who taught the classes. There are still people alive today who attended this school and according to them, one of the formal teachers was named Mrs. Beatrice Dobbs. Mrs. Dobbs lived on Lawrence Street in Marietta and would walk to work (a six mile walk one way) most days.
Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church was served by several Pastors throughout the early years of its formation. All of them (Reverends’ Burge, Allen, Jennings, Allen, Loyd, Maxwell, Kirk, Mathis, Edwards, A.A. Callaway, Ferrel, Green, J. H. Thomas, D. J. Carter, Bivins, Hart and John Freeman, Sr.) served faithfully under the direction of the Holy Spirit and lead the members with love, commitment and guidance. However, God always sends exceptional people to effectively lead in the service of the Lord. One of these exceptional lead was Reverend Ralph Robert Freeman. He began his tenure at Liberty Hill in 1939 and served until his death on September 25, 1976. To date, he is the longest serving Pastor of Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
When the church building was mysteriously destroyed by fire April 13, 1941, there was much significant disagreement and concern about rebuilding on this site. But many realized that if a church was not rebuilt then the land would revert to the J. B, Blackwell family. To resolve the disagreement; part of the congregation left and purchased land in the city of Marietta to form a church closer to where they lived. They named their church Pine Street Baptist Church.
Under the leadership of Reverend R. R. Freeman, the remaining congregants decided to rebuild and persevered while continuing to hold worship service utilizing the school building. Reverend Freeman oversaw the rebuilding of the “little white church” and Liberty Hill Church continued. The little white church building was constructed by the people in the congregation. They used their skills and gave of their time to ensure that they had a place to worship.
Upon the death of Rev. R. R. Freeman, Reverend Hugh E. Byrd was called to lead the flock. He served from April 3, 1977 to 1979. Reverend Byrd managed the completion of the present building with its dedication on October 22, 1978. Once again, the membership gave of their personal time, talent and money to build and complete the church building.
Succeeding Pastor Byrd were Reverend Donald L. White, who served from 1980 to 1987 and Benjamin Davis, Jr., who served from 1987 through 1998. With the departure of Reverend Davis, the congregation once again had disagreements and members left to form their own church. As a result, Reverend John Garrett contracted to serve as interim pastor. He along with the Board of Deacons and Associate Ministers served to mend the spirit and to redirect the path of the church.
On June 11, 2000, Reverend Amos Williams and the members agreed that he should be called to pastor the church. Under his leadership we have “dared to dream great dreams”. We have bought additional land totaling 10 acres. We have a separate Christian Educational and Learning Center. We have changed church affiliation from Kennesaw Association to Noonday Baptist Association. We have renovated the interior of the church. We have instituted evangelism training for congregants. Pastor Williams continues to support the women’s ministry, the men’s ministry, the kitchen ministry, new member’s class, interpersonal skills class and marriage classes. Pastor Williams also continues to support our youth and college bound programs. Pastor Williams has set the bar for us by excelling in education and earning his Doctorate of Divinity this year. With all of these accomplishments, we are eagerly awaiting more “great dreams” in our future.
Pastor Williams continues to lead us in the direction that God has given him. May God bless Pastor Williams and Liberty Hill Missionary Church!
“History isn’t about dates and places and wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them.”
― Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller
The windows in this church are a testament to the lives and work of the people who came before us. Their names represent real people who gave of themselves to further the work of church namely to save souls. Let me introduce you so some of them: Joe Grisham (Gresham) was born in 1834 in Georgia. His wife’s name was Dianna and they had seven children. And most interestingly, his grandmother lived with them and was 100 years old which meant that she was born during the time of the Revolutionary War. There is also Mrs. Iowa Burse (Holmes). She was born in Forsyth County on April 10, 1905. She served as the clerk of the church in 1955. Her aunt is Artie Burse Garrett (who is also listed on the windows). I don’t know if you caught that last name of Garrett but we currently have one of her family members engaged in winning souls for God today. In every window there is a name and a story behind it. History is not just a recitation of dates and events but of the day to day lives of the people who live, work and contribute. Let’s continue to write our history for another one hundred and fifty years.