Historical Photos

A Brief History of Clement Baptist Church

An excerpt from the 2000 Clement Cookbook, written by Mrs. Rachel Newton.

Prior to 1830 the only church in the community was Wheelers Primitive Baptist Church. Some tracts or pamphlets concerning the missionary beliefs had been distributed among its members. Some members were converted to this new idea, thus causing a division in the church. Elder Stephen Pleasant, a very influential member of the church, led in organizing a missionary Baptist church. Through this faithful group of followers and the influence of Rev. Pleasant, on March 20, 1830 a deed of three acres of land was donated by Mr. Nat Norfleet for the purpose of organizing Clement Church. Soon a house of worship was built where the cemetery is located. Rev. Pleasant served as its first pastor and served until his death in 1852. Clement grew and prospered under his guidance. Rev. Pleasant was also the founder of the Beulah Baptist Association of which Clement was a member and remains faithful today.

Many faithful men of God have served as Pastor of Clement. In the original history written by Miss Bessie Hester in 1975, the names of former pastors and the ways in which the Lord led them is very inspiring. Some served as pastor longer than others, but each has left an important mark in the growth of Clement Baptist Church.

Rev. J. H. Lamberth became pastor in 1885. He saw great possibilities for the little church. A committee was authorized to select a site and raise funds for a larger church. It was built directly across the road from the original building. The dedication of the new church was held on the fifth Sunday in July 1888.

In September 1921, Rev. L. V. Coggins came to serve Clement after a succession of supplies and short pastorates, hence the church was at a low ebb. Through the faithful and efficient leadership of Rev. Coggins there was a continuous growth in every department. For 28 years, he and Mrs. Coggins served Clement Loyally and wisely. During Rev. Coggins ministry the old organ purchased in 1887 for $61.25 was traded for a $300 piano and the beautiful stained glass windows were installed. The window on the left side at the front of the sanctuary was placed in honor of Rev. Louis Coggins. Rev. and Mrs. Coggins are buried in Clement’s cemetery.

In 1928 a building committee was elected with Mr. D. L. Whitfield as chairperson. This committee was composed for the purpose of moving the church back 160 ft. from its former location and to dig a basement for Sunday School Rooms. The heirs of the late Charles R. and Corrina Henry Vernon gave the land for the church. Nine Sunday School rooms and an assembly room were added and the auditorium was newly plastered. The Vernons also gave land for the parsonage.

Dr. John E. Briggs, a native from this community, and pastor of Briggs Memorial Church in Washington, D. C., gave the first $5.00 for books for a church library. It has grown from a couple of books to over 3,000 volumes of cultured, inspirational and religious books made possible by Dr. Briggs, Rev. and Mrs. Coggins and other leaders of the church. Dr. Briggs left an endowment for the library and the church honored his memory by naming the library the John E. Briggs Library.

Rev. Henry Couch and Rev. Ted Gaze served Clement as student pastors after Rev. Coggins’ death. Rev. Charles Stevens came to Clement in 1950 and was the first full time pastor to serve Clement.

Rev. E. H. Cannady came to Clement in October 1954. Under his leadership our present educational plant was added to the church. This modern building provided a fully departmentalized Sunday School, with kitchen and recreational facilities in the basement. The sanctuary was renovated with a baptistery, choir loft and vestibule added. The outside of the building was brick veneered.

In August 1960 Rev. Johnny J. Smith answered the call to become pastor. On October 28, 1962 a note burning service was held. The church remained debt free only four months when it was decided to purchase new pews, Baptist Hymnals, light fixtures, carpet for the sanctuary, halls, office and library; Hammond Organ; paint sanctuary, choir loft and elsewhere. In 1970 the church made extensive improvements outside of the church and remodeling of the basement to be used for a fellowship hall and a larger kitchen area.

Rev. Art Collier came to serve Clement as its pastor in 1966. His musical ministry served Clement well with his talented singing voice and his direction of the choir. He worked closely with the youth of Clement seeing that there were activities and leadership for them.

Rev. Ben Gault came a s pastor in 1970. After hopes and dreams for many years, a beautiful church steeple was placed on top of the church sanctuary in 1971.

In June 1973 Clement embarked on a new area of work. Under the leadership of Rev. Ben Gault and Mrs. Geraldine Newton the church youth and its advisors were invited to conduct Mission Bible School in Middlefield, Ohio. a church has been organized there through their efforts and the Home Mission Board. Other Mission Tours by this group were done in 1974 and 1975. Through the years some of the men and women of the church have given their time and Christian abilities in serving God on short mission tours and work.

Rev. Ron Boswell accepted the pastorate of Clement in 1981. While at Clement Rev. Boswell authored a book, The Blessing of Beulah, which was a study and history of the Beulah Baptist Association and its churches. He was also instrumental in starting Spanish worship services for the migrant workers in this area.

Rev. Johnny J. Smith answered the second call to lead Clement in July 1992. He has served faithfully and the church has grown both spiritually and in number.

The church continues to move forward in the work for the Lord. The last of the long range planning is about to be fulfilled. That is to add a wing to the north side of the church to make more room for future growth. Clement Baptist Church continues to be active in Home, State, and Foreign Missions. The local Benevolent Program has served the church and local community in various ways in times of illness, death, disaster or just to help someone who needs a helping hand or a friend.

Mr. Gault advised that if each Clement family would contribute $65 at the homecoming offering, a goal could be met of $6500 to have the steeple built and put in place.  Rev. Gault drew the blueprints for the steeple.  At this time, there was not another design like it in the entire world.  A company in Roswell, Georgia was hired to build the steeple at a cost of $5600.  .  Rev. Gault chuckled and commented the blueprints were sent back a couple of times.  However, the company liked his design so much that it placed other identical steeples on other churches and eventually put it in their line of steeples.

A fiberglass steeple was the only choice because of the weight of one being constructed of wood.  The fiberglass had paint mixed in with the fiberglass so it didn’t have to be painted.  Clement’s steeple wasn’t supposed to have speakers and chimes.  Not until the steeple was finished did the builders recognize their mistake.  Clement did not have to pay for the speakers and chimes.