Our Church History
In 1880, a small group of settlers felt the calling to establish a church where they could worship and study God’s Word. The church was called New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. G. D. Benton was the first pastor. Woodson Knowles donated land for the first church. Lewis King built the original church and he was the first to be buried in the church cemetery. Peopled of the community donated the money for materials, built the benches, and bought a pump organ. The church had Sunday School, Prayer Meetings, Ladies Aid (later called W.M.U.), and a choir from the beginning. New Hope Baptist Church joined the Tuskegee Baptist Association in 1885. In 1887, the church joined Harris Baptist Association, the predecessor of Russell Baptist Association. In 1891, the church changed its name from New Hope Baptist Church to Ladonia Baptist Church. There was a post office located in Evan’s Store. The post office and community were called Ladonia. The Old Evan’s Store was located across Highway 80 from the current 13th Street Bar-B-Que on the corner of Woodland Drive and Highway 80. Sunday School consisted of an adult class, a young people’s class, and a children’s class. All met in the auditorium. Babies were on quilts in the adult class. Sunday School was every week with preaching only one Sunday each month. The seating arrangement in the church worship service was short benches in the center. Babies were on quilts near their mothers. Men were on one side, women on the other, and children and youth in the center. The building was heated with a pot-bellied stove. Cooling was open windows and hand fans. Kerosene lamps with reflectors were used for lighting. In 1896, Rev. E. G. Moncrief was Pastor with 20 baptisms and 5 other additions and by the end of the year the membership was 37. Singing schools were held during many summers and were well attended. Baptisms were held in Yuchi Creek, various ponds, and at Britton swimming pool. The ladies and girls wore white dresses and the men wore work pants and white shirts for baptism. In 1898, the property was valued at $500.00. The offering for the year in 1902 was reported at $202.45 with $128.00 for building and repairs. The first piano was purchased in 1920. The church adopted a constitution and bylaws in 1925. In 1935 or 1936, the church got electricity. Rev. Charles Brewer was pastor from 1932 through 1937. In 1940, the church called Rev. T. J. Floyd as its first full time pastor. He was pastor for 2 years. Under his leadership, the church membership grew to 157. In 1940, N. H. Hancock was ordained to the ministry. In 1941, R. E. Martin donated six acres of land and a house adjoining the church property. The house was first used as a pastorium and later was used as a nursery. G.A.’s were organized in 1941. Rev. Corley served as pastor in 1943 and 1944.
From 1944 through 1946, Rev. J. L. Reeves was Pastor. During this period, Sunbeams were organized for preschoolers and the first Vacation Bible School was held. Gas was installed in the church for heating in 1946 and modern plumbing facilities were added in the pastorium in 1947. Rev. T. J. Floyd was pastor in 1947 and membership increased to 178. On April 27, 1947, Mrs. Catherine Ridley, Tommy Pugh, and Gene Oswalt were the first to be baptized in a new baptistry in the church. Rev. Weyman White became Pastor in 1948 and served through 1949. Church membership increased to 197. In 1950, Rev. E. P. Robbins became Pastor and he served through 1954. Membership increased to 263 in the first year and was 348 when he left. During this period, there were 87 baptisms reported. The church had its first bulletin in 1950, adopted a unified budget, and added two new Sunday School rooms. The Sunday School rooms were separated from the auditorium with hinged plywood petitions which would be folded to the walls to open up for a side addition to the auditorium during worship service. New plans were approved for a new church and Sunday School rooms in 1951 and the building was dedicated in 1953. The old building was used for Sunday School rooms. Chester Free was licensed to the ministry in 1953, entered New Orleans Baptist Seminary, and was ordained on October 31, 1954. Rev. J. Eldon Jones became Pastor in December of 1954. The church had a deep-well bored and began a bus ministry in 1956. The church membership was 391 when he resigned in 1956. 37 baptisms were reported during his ministry at Ladonia. Rev. Jack Clark was pastor from 1957 to 1959. The church membership grew to 455 with 58 baptisms. In 1958, the old church building was sold for $350.00 and used to pay off the mortgage on the newer building. The church borrowed $17,500.00 to build a new education building. The auditorium was remodeled and new heating systems were installed in both buildings. James L. Armour was ordained as a minister on October 11, 1958. In July 1960, Rev. Richard Hayes began a ministry that lasted for a decade. In 1960, the church bought a house to serve as a pastorium. The auditorium was redecorated in 1964 at a cost of $1776.00. Art Williams was ordained on March 8, 1964. On July 4, 1965, a mission was begun and it was constituted in Shady Woods Baptist Church on September 17, 1967. In 1965, the church purchased an organ, remodeled, and added a new room to the pastorium. During this period the church office was remodeled into a pastor’s study, secretary’s office, and library. The church building debt was paid off on September 7, 1967. Daniel Deliz was licensed to preach in 1968 and ordained in 1972. Brother Hayes resigned on August 23, 1970. Under his ministry, 76 were added by baptism and 262 others joined the church. Rev. B. S. Warr became interim pastor in August 1970 and served until April 1971. The church bought a bus and began a bus ministry in June 1971. Rev. Lucas began a radio broadcast of morning worship on November 1, 1971. On November 10, 1971, the Planning Committee recommended that the church proceed with plans for construction of a two-story education building, remodeling the front of the auditorium basement, fellowship hall, and front entrance. Bonds were sold in six hours. Low bid on the building was $119,840.00. The building was completed in May 1973 and dedication was held on May 27, 1973. Rev. Lucas resigned in 1975. The church had a membership of 577. During his ministry, 196 were added by baptism and 153 others joined the church. Rev. B. S. Warr was interim pastor. Rev. Howard Golden became pastor in January 1976. J. T. Paul became Minister of Music and Youth in 1976. He was ordained to the gospel ministry on November 6, 1977. The auditorium was remodeled and new pews and pulpit furniture were added in 1978. Rob Payne came as Minister of Music and Youth in 1983. Brother Golden resigned in 1984. Under his ministry, 184 were added by baptism and 190 others joined the church. Steve Faulk became pastor in April 1984. In 1988, a new education building was constructed to include preschool, children and youth areas, and church offices. On Good Friday in 1991, the auditorium was destroyed by a tornado. The old sanctuary and education building were demolished and the church contracted to have a steel building constructed to provide a new worship center, education space, new baptistry, and bride’s room. The building was constructed adjacent to the 1973 education building and fellowship hall and behind the front facade to the old auditorium. The people of the church finished the inside of the building, leaving the second-floor space for future expansion. Rev. Steve Faulk preached his last sermon in November 1998. Under his ministry, the church added 218 by baptism and 169 others joined the church. Ray Newman became interim pastor and served until David Mills became pastor in June 1999. During his tenure, the second-floor education classrooms were finished. Gary Mitchell became Minister of Music. Rev. David Mills preached his last message on May 16, 2002. Under his ministry, the church added 85 by baptism and 83 others joined the church.
Rev. David Howle became interim pastor in July 2002. Chris Hess became associate pastor and youth minister in that same year. Scott Rhodes became Minister of Music and Gary Mitchell became minister of senior adults. Chris later resigned to become pastor in another church. Sean Boyd became youth minister and later resigned to go to seminary. Tom Phillips replaced Sean and later resigned to work in another ministry. Ben Hale became student minister. In 2007, a long-range planning committee was appointed to seek a direction for future ministries. The committee recommended that the church build a worship center with a balcony to seat 750 or more people, add education space, an activities room, office space, and an expanded parking area. The old worship center was made into a larger fellowship hall. The membership roles were revised in 2007 with the total membership at 431. Additions to our church under Rev. David Howle’s ministry include 333 baptisms and 331 other additions. Total church membership in 2009 was 603. Rev. David Howle served as interim pastor for 12 years. He preached his last sermon on Mother’s Day 2014. Rev. Don Wilhite served as interim pastor May 2014 to May 2015. Rev. William Greg Hyche was called to serve as pastor and preached his first sermon at Ladonia on May 3, 2015.
The Lord continues to bless His work at Ladonia. All that has been accomplished is through Him and for His Glory. He has given our church a great challenge to reach our ever-expanding community.