As we recounted last time, in 1885 twenty-two people broke from Ebenezer Baptist Church to organize a church closer to downtown Greenbrier. The church began raising money to buy land and to construct a building. They purchased a lot at 411 East Main Street for $50 and the building began.
Before the building was completed the Methodists cooperated with the new church and extended their blessings and assistance. Early services were held at the Methodist Church (which was build in 1883) and in the home of John T. Hinkle.
It’s not know exactly when the building was completed, but in a report to the Cumberland Association in 1887, the only expenditures listed for the church were $1 for Associational minutes and $750 for “all other purposes.” Since the cost of the lot was $50, the total cost of the building including pews and furnishings must have been around $700 for the one-room frame building that was about forty by sixty feet.
Bro. William S. Adams became the first pastor, probably in late 1886. Bro. Adams was born in Adams Station, Tennessee and was ordained to preach by Red River Baptist Church in 1858. He served several churches in Robertson County and in Kentucky, before coming to Ebenezer in 1886, He probably also served Greenbrier during that time, but there is not an official record of his being pastor until the Cumberland Association minutes of 1887. (Unfortunately, we do not have a photograph of Rev. Adams.)
By 1888, the membership had grown to 57. Bro. Adams preached the Annual Missionary sermon for the Cumberland Association that year.
The treasurer’s report of the Tennessee Baptist Convention in 1889 shows that Greenbrier contributed $3 for the support of convention objectives. This is the first report of a contribution to state work by GFBC,
According to accounts given by Mrs. J. T. Hinkle, Sunday School was held even before the building was completed. In 1891, it was reported that the Sunday School enrollment was seventy-one members. While there is no “official” record of when Wednesday evening prayer meetings began, all accounts indicated it was pretty much when the church was organized or very soon thereafter. Laymen conducted the prayer meetings in the early years, since there was not a pastor on the field until 1919.
Even in these early years, the Baptists and the Methodists met together on Thanksgiving. The Union Service (as it was called then) would be held on Thanksgiving morning. One year the Methodist minister preached at the Baptist church, and the next year the Baptist minister preached at the Baptist church. Other churches were invited to be a part of this service. Ebenezer has participated since 1948.
It is believed that Bro. Adams continued as pastor through 1889. Rev. George W. Featherstone served from 1890 through part of 1893. In 1891 he was paid $75 for that year, and $70 for 1892. Preaching day was changed from the fourth to the third Sunday of each month and the Saturday afternoon before. This continued until 1917.
In 1894, Rev. George W. Willis, a member of the church, was elected pastor. That year it was reported that there were 56 members and total expenditures for the year were $128.
Rev. A. H. Rather was chosen pastor in 1895 with a salary of $100 per year. He served through 1901, at which time the membership had risen to 144.