The History of Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church
"Except The Lord Build The House, They Labour In Vain That Build It." – Psalm 127:1 (KJV)
The Founding Period (1868)
Rev. Larry A. Thompson
The year was 1868, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and three years after the Civil War ended that this historic Missionary Baptist Church had its’ conception. It was located in the quaint little sparsely populated community, on the side of what is now Nolensville Road.
Scattered here and there, on adjoining farms, that were former slave plantations were a faithful few who had been meeting in various homes along with their children who still believed in, and served the God they had found in their dark days of slavery.
Having no permanent place for worship, these loyal and devout servants of God had unshaken faith in God, and deep down in their hearts lingered a belief that some day they would have a permanent place in which to worship their God, and to teach and train their children.
It was during these times that the people cried out to God for deliverance, and he heard their cries, and sent an itinerant preacher into the community by the name of Rev. Larry A. Thompson. Suddenly, and without announcement, he appeared among this small band of Christians preaching and teaching God’s word. A short time later, he called the scattered few together under a big oak tree on the farm of Sam Overton, and there he organized what is now the Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church, and served as its’ first pastor. He established strong roots for this historic church, and God paved the way, and provided him with the torch, which illuminated the path that led these faithful pioneers on their pilgrimage.
Immediately, Reverend Thompson set himself to the task of easing the situation. In six months from that time, a small box church building was erected across the road, opposite the past location. In this simple edifice, the congregation flourished spiritually and numerically, and great joy was manifested. Shortly after the first year of pastoring in his new "house of worship," Rev. Thompson resigned and moved to the Indian Territory to further spread the word of God. But before his departure, he named the community and church Lake Providence because of a stream of water that flowed through the area, and that it was the divine providence of God that brought him into the community.
Several months following the resignation of Rev. Thompson, another minister by the name of Rev. Manuel stepped into the breach to hold things together for a brief period, and then resigned. The congregation struggled for a while without a shepherd. It was revealed from church records that the following ministers served as pastor down through the years: Rev. Mose Albert; Rev. Taylor Nightingale; Rev. James Mitchell; Rev. John Dillard; Rev. Frank Stamps; Rev. James Anderson; Rev. John Slaughter; Rev. James Wells; Rev. Edward Smith; Rev. Samuel Ivory; Rev. Thomas Cross; Rev. James Gardner; Rev. W.M. Underwood; Rev. S.S. Cumby; Rev. J.W. Moore; Rev. G.W. Dickerson; Rev. Pat Bedford; Rev. W.M. Harris; Rev. W.L. Douglass; and Rev. Frank Swift.
It was during the pastorate of Rev. Swift, that much progress was made; but in the year of 1917, a tornado destroyed the church. Worship services were then held in the school building. After approximately five months, another church was erected, and the congregation along with Rev. Swift marched into their new house of worship. This rich and fruitful pastorate marked the dawn of a new day, but was short lived. Rev. John Wesley Pitt was called, and soon the church took on new life, and many souls were added to the vineyard. Later, he resigned, and was succeeded by the Rev. George Gray; Rev. S.A. Alexander, and the Rev. J.W. Evans. Under the leadership of Rev. Evans many accomplishments were made. But after receiving another call, he resigned. Again, the church was without a pastor, but this loyal and devoted membership stuck together and carried on; trusting in God to send them another shepherd. God still had Lake Providence in his hands, and did not allow her to suffer for able leadership. There is an adage that says, "If you want a job done, get a busy man to do it."
Growth and Expansion (1931)
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Rev. Samuel Henry Simpson
Rev. SimpsonAfter approximately three months, the deacons extended a call to the Rev. Dr. Samuel H. Simpson who was then pastor of the Greater St. John M.B. Church. On Friday, November 6, 1931, in a special call meeting, Rev. Samuel Henry Simpson was elected pastor of Lake Providence. With the arrival of Rev. Simpson, Lake Providence gained new hope. A mortgage debt on the church greeted him, but with faith in God, confidence in the membership, and self-determination, he gave his plan, and without a single objection they were accepted by the church. Within one year from that time, the debt was satisfied in full. The building was then remodeled, and many new departments organized, and one of the finest working systems set up to be found anywhere in a rural church.
Reverend Simpson with his tact of leadership and pastoral ability led this congregation to a new level, but still he desired to do more. In his mind was the idea of a building that would be a memorial to the sainted fathers and mothers who blazed the way, and laid the foundation for their children. This building was designed to serve as a recreational facility for the young people of this church, and a kitchen/dining room area. Construction on this project began, and within six months, it was completed at a cost of $3,500. By the end of the next year, this entire indebtedness was also satisfied in full.
In October 1950, the old church building was demolished, and soon the construction of the new edifice began. On the fifth Sunday in September 1951, construction was completed, and the congregation, which was led by Reverend Simpson, marched from the old church building across Nolensville Road into the preceding edifice. He served the church for forty-four years until ill health prevailed. On February 18, 1976, God saw fit to call him home for a well-deserved reward. During his administration, the following ministers served: Rev. Willie J. Goins, Rev. Alfred Whitlow, Rev. Edward Hill, Rev. H.C. Maxwell, Sr., and Rev. Jesse P. Nightingale.
Rev. Simpson made significant strides for Lake Providence during his pastorate, and will always be remembered in the hearts of those who knew him.
Growth and Change (1976)
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Rev. H. Bruce Maxwell
Upon the home going of Rev. S.H. Simpson, Lake Providence called her own son, the Reverend H. Bruce Maxwell to the pastorate. He was installed and licensed to preach on November 14, 1976. Since this grandiose event, our church family has been blessed with an upsurge of growth. On November 13, 1988, a groundbreaking ceremony was held, and the construction of a new edifice began. On the fourth Sunday in October 1989, construction was completed, and the congregation that was led by Pastor Maxwell marched from the parking lot into the 4506 Nolensville Road location.
The blessings of the Lord have truly been with this congregation enabling us to retire the debt occasioned by the 1988 construction in half of the allotted time. On July 23, 1995, a Mortgage Burning Ceremony was held to commemorate satisfaction of that debt.
Over the past four years, a Building Committee was appointed to develop plans to address the continued growth of the ministry. The Committee's initial charge was to develop plans for enlarging the current edifice. In anticipation of this addition, several parcels of land were purchased to accomplish this goal. As the Committee began to seriously explore augmenting the current facility, it became quite clear that challenges associated with the existing site would make any substantive expansion unfeasible. The church family was polled to determine their preference and voted overwhelmingly to relocate. The Building Committee, empowered with this charge, began the difficult task of locating suitable property to erect a worship edifice. After much prayer, the Building Committee identified 36 acres of land approximately two miles south of the past edifice, and presented this property to the congregation as the future site of Lake Providence.
With the completion of this new building dedicated to God, it is apparent that Lake Providence still practices the principle on which it was founded: "Through Christ All Things Are Possible."
Today, as we reflect on our great heritage, we should rededicate ourselves to serving the Lord, for without Him, our ancestors would not have been able to sustain the struggles, hardships, and other adversities that confronted them during these emerging years.
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