The little white church on Railroad Bed Road has been a fixture in the Holly Creek community for many years. The idea of a new church began when Bro. L.O. Cook and Bro. Wren Adams held a revival near there in 1951. Williams Chapel Free Will Baptist Church was officially established in 1952 with 12 members. Bro. L.O. Cook was the first pastor, and Turner Williams was the only deacon. They assembled weekly in the Holly Creek school building until the school burned. They then met in an old house owned by Turner Williams until the present church was built in 1954 on land donated by Mr. Williams. Sunday School rooms were built onto the church in 1964-1969.
The church has had several different pastors over the years, with Bro. Camryn Eaton serving as pastor from 2016 until the present. Bro. Camryn became pastor following the passing of Bro. James “Pete” Turnbow, who served as pastor of Williams Chapel for a total of 27 years, including a period from 1979 to 1973 and then from 1993-2016. Current deacons at the church include J.D. Butler, Jerry Butler, and Brett Rinehart.
Sis. Pauline Williams is the oldest active female member of the church. She reminisced about the early days, saying, “From 1953-1954, we had church in an old house. We had blocks of wood with boards across for seats, which was not comfortable. I always cooked enough food for the preacher and others who wanted to eat. We only had church two Sundays a month. When the church was built, we didn’t have water, so we carried water every Sunday. We had a bucket and dipper for everyone to drink out of. We didn’t have much money, so the ladies and I made a quilt top and my sisters and I quilted it to sell at auction. We used that money to help pay for new Sunday School rooms.”
Bro. J.D. Butler is the oldest active male member of the church. He remembers the early days of the church as well. “I have lived on Holly Creek since 1947. I was converted to the family of God and joined the church at Williams Chapel in July 1964. I was ordained as deacon on September 29, 1968. I remember the old wood stove in the church and pulpit which sat in the corner. I remember when you came to church and the windows would be raised. Times have changed,” said Mr. Butler.
Bro. Camryn Eaton became pastor at Williams Chapel on September 25, 2016. Bro. Camryn said, “As pastor, I want to see lives changed by people surrendering their hearts and lives to Jesus, see Christians grow in the Lord, and be God’s hands and feet!” Bro. Camryn, his wife Hannah, and daughter Chapel truly are blessings to Williams Chapel Church.
Williams Chapel started a building fund 20 years ago. Even then, the congregation saw the need for a bigger church to accommodate all the members and visitors. In 2018, four acres located about a half mile from the current location were purchased for the new church building. After much consideration, discussion, and prayer, the church decided that 2023 would be the year to build a new church building. The concrete slab was poured in February 2023.
Fast forward to this month, May 2023. The Piedmont Carpenters for Christ (PCFC) is a men’s ministry based out of Piedmont, Alabama. They have built churches in AL, TN, GA, MS, SC, and VA over the past 18 years. They started with a group of about 35 men in 2002 in Mt. Rest, SC and presently average 80 men on projects from 6+ states and 20+ churches. Each man pays $135 and gives up a week’s vacation to attend the trip. The $135 donation goes to provide meals for the week and update construction tools and kitchen equipment as needed. The PCFC group grows from year to year as they finish construction projects and pick up men from previous trips. These men are made up of different denominational backgrounds. The men begin coming the next year with a heart for the men’s ministry.
Piedmont Carpenters for Christ has a two-fold purpose, first is to help build a church in a community to reach the lost for Christ. The local church provides the materials and PCFC provides labor to help reduce cost. Second, is to help strengthen men in their spiritual walk with Christ by spending a week together working and worshipping together with other Christian men. The men’s occupations are diverse, most of which are not construction in nature.
PCFC chose Williams Chapel Free Will Baptist Church to be this year’s mission project. What a blessing! The church will be approximately 6,000 square feet and will have two stories. It will have a sanctuary, a kitchen, and Sunday School rooms. The outside walls will be brick.
The group arrived on Thursday, May 18, for planning and kick-off. During the mission trip week, if you drive by the construction site, you will notice “Carpenters for Christ” trailers parked at the site. The trailers house a complete kitchen setup to feed approximately 80-100 men three meals each day by a staff of ten. The local ladies of the church and community provide the men with desserts and wash their clothes daily. The men are lodging either in the RVs or at the nearby Holly Creek Fire Hall. PCFC Project Coordinator Michael Maddox said, “These men are so thankful to everyone for all they do for us during the course of this week. It is awesome the way the community reaches out to help churches and us by providing essentials such as showers and lodging. Locals welcome us with words of encouragement and personally praying with us in local establishments.” Church members, other local pastors, and others gather daily at breakfast and lunch for a good meal and a devotional.
The first full work day on the building was Friday, May 19. Their goal is to have the building completely dried in by the week’s end. This includes a completed roof system, outside walls, rough plumbing, electrical, HVAC, insulation, and possibly drywall.
At sunrise, the men circle up for prayer and instruction to start the day. PCFC Construction Leader Jason Williams said, “This is the way we start each morning. We pray first and foremost to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for His safety throughout the day and then I direct the men on what we need to accomplish.”
As of press time on Friday, the new Williams Chapel Church building looked to be completely dried in and ready for work on the interior to begin. Church services were held outside at the new building last Sunday, and while the weather was lovely, the congregation is looking forward to future services inside the new building.
“What a glorious day we had today on our new church ground!” said Pastor Camryn Eaton. “We are looking forward to the day when we are INSIDE the building. As much as we are excited about our new building, we are more excited about what’s going to happen INSIDE the building. Souls saved, rest for the weary, and healing to take place! Thank you, Lord!”
Bro. Camryn and the congregation invite everyone to “come see what God is doing at Williams Chapel Free Will Baptist Church!”