HISTORY OF CANAAN BAPTIST CHURCH
by Elvn Upshaw
In July or August, 1872, Canaan Baptist Church was organized. They met in a log School house located near Clellan Bryan’s home. There were thirteen charter members. Some of the charter members were:
Mr. And Mrs. Thomas Seale
Mr. And Mrs. Jake Risinger
Mr. And Mrs. Tom Post
Mrs. Amanda Morgan
Mrs. Julia Ann Upshaw
Mrs. Emma Elkins
Mrs. Dorcas McAdams
Reverend A. B. Abbott or Reverend Hunt preached the first sermon. One of them was probably the first pastor. Tom Post was the first church clerk. All records before 1901 were lost.
This building was used for twelve or fifteen years. Thomas Seale gave three acres of land, on which to build the second church building, where the present church building is located. This was a small frame building used as a schoolhouse, too.
Later the congregation decided to build a church, at the same location, leaving the other building for a schoolhouse. In 1921 the building was destroyed by a windstorm.
During this early period preaching services were held once a month, weather permitting, with conference on Saturday. Church discipline was rather rigid. Members were disciplined for non-attendance, immoral conduct, foul language, drunkenness, and etc.
The route of the public road had changed so after the building was destroyed by a windstorm, the church voted to buy land from G. L. Risinger, on the public road, to build a new church building. Records show Dewey Rocket was pastor during this undertaking The building committee was released in January 1922. Brother J. R. Edwards preached the dedicatory sermon.
There are no records to show when the first Sunday School was organized, but between the years 1922-1958, the outreach of the church was greatly expanded. Training Union was organized in 1931.Cooperative Program was first mentioned in the minutes in the same year.
In 1931, during the depression, the church budget showed the following expenditures:
Pastor’s Salary $96.25
Orphan’s home $16.62
Repair of lights $ 1.90
For a total of $128.77
All expenses of the church including the pastor’s salary, building and repairs, mission offerings, contributions to Louisiana College and Children’s Home were solicited by various committees appointed by the church and the treasurer.
For a long period of years wood burning heaters one on the man’s side and one on the women’s side, were used to heat the church building. Coleman lamps were used for lighting. Through the efforts and work of church leaders and our able pastor, B. C. Smith, in the 1940’s many improvements were mad to our church plant including the purchase of a piano, electricity in 1944, an attic fan and butane was installed in 1947. (The organ was sold to Billy Smith.)
During this time the auditorium was divided into rooms for Sunday School by curtains made from ducking which could be drawn or pushed back. Half-time preaching was begun in 1946. In 1944 four Sunday School rooms were added to the back of the church auditorium. This was soon paid for. Full-time preaching began in 1950.
In 1858, Brother Tom Leachman led the church in a revival. His spirit-filled sermons on stewardship led many members to begin tithing. A building fund was started, and in 1957 a committee was appointed to sell the Sunday School rooms and land where the church now stood, and to draw up plans for building a new church back where the cemetery was. Another one half acre was given the church by John Frank Courtney to enlarge the acreage to thee and one-half acres.
Brother D.K. Sawyers, who was our pastor off and on from 1908 to 1919, led the dedication services for the new building in October 1958. The church borrowed $2,000, which was paid back in a few months.
Since that time the church plant has continually been improved. Plans for our recent addition, the kitchen, extension of the fellowship hall, and rest rooms was begun while Reverend Roy Gardner was pastor.
Fortunately in April 1971 the Lord sent our way Brother John Mahoney and his Christian wife. In the spring, 1972, the addition was completed and dedicated. Cost of the newest addition was $5,792.24. On April 6, 1972, the cancelled note was displayed for all to see.
With less than 100 resident members, the church budget has increased in the last 40 years. Total receipts for the Associational Year 1971 were $8,637.24, with 15 per cent designated to Cooperative Program. Expenditures were:
Cooperative Program………………… 1,287.71
Union Association……………………… ..36.00
Lottie Moon Offering…………………… 169.40
The lord has blessed us, with the right man for a particular time, by sending our way men of god, filled with the Spirit to lead us in expanding our church ministry. Each one has a special place in our hearts. We are so grateful for their leadership.
Down through the years, since 1901, the pastors have been in order as follows:
J. Duff Smith
Roy A. Gardner
Deacons who have served and are serving the church are:
The following men have been licensed and/or ordained by Canaan Church as ministers of the gospel:
Billy Smith Sr.
Bobby Glen Sweeney
The first person buried in the church Cemetery was Izzy Coleman Post in 1898. Improvements on the cemetery have been made through the years. A cyclone fence encloses the entire area. A special fund is maintained for the upkeep of the cemetery.
Our heritage is rich. May we hold dear the traditions our forefathers have left us. May we dedicate ourselves to the task at hand to make our church great, and may we look to God for strength and courage to face the future.