History Of Bark Camp Church
The Bark Camp Church probably got its name from a small settlement located three miles east of the present building near the Jenkins County line and on the east side of what became Bark Camp Creek. Hardy souls were in this area as early as 1740 hunting and grazing cattle on Indian land. For temporary shelter pioneers would construct lean-to type shelters and cover them with bark, a method learned from the Indians, hence bark camp. The present location of the church came to be called Bark Camp Crossroads. At least four roads came together in front of the church. The main road in front of the building went from Birdsville to Louisville. That is why the church is facing south. Bark Camp Crossroads boasted the second oldest Post Office in the State of Georgia after Birdsville.
After the Indian Treaty of 1763 people began to move into this area in substantial numbers, including well-to-do planters that eventually developed large plantations. The Bark Camp Baptist Church, located four miles north of Midville, Georgia on Highway 56, was organized in the early part of 1788, even before George Washington was elected president. It was a center of worship, culture and hospitality in one of the oldest settlements in Burke County. Many wealthy plantation owners were among the early members.
The church began with twenty-nine charter members that included Silas Scarbore, its first pastor, Zebulon Cock and John Allen, who were its first deacons. Zebulon Cock gave the first plot of land. The congregation has built four houses of worship. The first was made of round logs (probable with the bark left on) followed by a hewn log and clapboard buildings.
Moses Fuller constructed the fourth and present building in the spring of 1847 at the cost of $1,700. His wife, Laura, erected a fairly large marker in the cemetery in memory of Mr. Fuller. Charles A. Burton gave the church four acres and sold an additional four acres for $25 for the stately edifice. In 1848 two chairs, a sofa and a communion table were purchased for the new church. The beautiful pulpit Bible was given to the church by Mrs. Adelaide Sneed. The original communion set was probably given to the young congregation at its early inception. We have the communion set, the old Bible and a copy of the membership roll and minuets dating back to the year 1823. The earliest records are lost to posterity.
Prominent names among the membership include: Bunns, Murphees, Nasworthys, Jones, Knights, Holtons, Inmans, Burtons, Grubbs, Crosses, Netherlands, Robinsons, Skinners, Colemans, Hicksons, Smith and many others. Jonathan Coleman, a Revolutionary War Veteran, and charter member of the church is buried in the cemetery. It is documented that Bark Camp Church was visited by Sherman’s raiders in Dec. of 1864.
Bark Camp Church was a powerful force for God for 170 years before its doors closed in 1958. Families in the community moved away and the younger generation went to college and never returned. From that 18th century beginning the church grew through the years to serve Burke County and beyond. It was instrumental in organizing Hephzibah Baptist Association and delegates were sent to Augusta in May of 1845 to help form the Southern Baptist Convention. From the Bark Camp Church came, either directly or indirectly churches such as: Midville, Rosier, Hines, Hawhammock, Summertown, and Bark Camp Baptist Church on McGruder Road.
Gone are the sights and sounds of regular worship, but the Bark Camp Church building, in all its dignity, graces still the rustling woodlands surrounding it. It is hoped that the old building through special worship events and an endless visitation of descendants, friends, and strangers, will yet speak to those who come and go about the great God who gave her birth and shaped her heritage. This is the answer for those who helped restore Bark Camp’s stately building and cemetery, and as we continue to preserve this heritage for future generations to enjoy and reflect upon.
After the restoration of Bank Camp Church building and cemetery in 2004, we have organized a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization with elected officials and hold our annual meeting the 3rd Saturday of April at 11 a.m. We have a speaker, business session, dinner on the picnic tables underneath the giant oak trees, and a fund-raising auction. The money raised at the auction goes into a special account for perpetual care for our cemetery. It is our goal to raise $20,000 for perpetual care of the cemetery. We will gladly accept donations and would greatly appreciate being remembered in your will.
History sketch written by Rev. Leonard Quick, who was the driving force organizing the restoration of old Bark Camp Church. Mr. Quick and his family were members of the church in the late 40s and 50s, He was ordained as a Baptist minister at Bark Camp in November 1953. After his retirement and moving back home and saw the condition of the cemetery and church the restoration process soon began.