History is a record of past events and those, which are now taking place. The beginning information was obtained through interviews and conversations with the following persons who shared their facts and memories of Friendship.
Historian – Mrs. Margaret Neal Baldez
Mrs. Mattie Anderson Mr. Robert Keels Mr. J. W. P. Williams
Mrs. Pearl Teasley Mr. Frank Glenn Mr. William Teasley
Mr. Gresham Moss, Jr. Mrs. Vinnie Clemmons Mrs. Lizzie Mae Walker
Friendship members, officers and church anniversary committees provided additional information and updates.
During the late 1800’s there were no Negro Baptist churches in the city. One Sunday afternoon in 1887 the late Deacon Sharper Lincoln serving as committee chairman and other devoted men founded the first Negro Baptist church in Toccoa.
In the meantime these devoted men met and called the Rev. Sank Poole of Gainesville, GA to serve as the first pastor. In the first conference held, the church was named “Friendship” and plans were made to secure a building site for the church. Property was purchased in the section of town known as Duck Town and a frame structure was erected. Rev. Poole had a growing membership with a bright outlook for great success. Services were held once per month. Much of the churches indebtedness was paid during his pastorate. Later Rev. Poole tendered his resignation and returned to his hometown of Gainesville, GA.
Friendship called Rev. Oglesby of Gainesville, GA as her second pastor. The Rev. Porter of Gainesville, GA was the third pastor of Friendship. He pastored several years and split the church. He and a group of followers, including Deacon Sharper Lincoln left Friendship and established the second Baptist Church in the section of town known as Summer Hill. Later the name of that church was changed to Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Rev. Hunter Green of Gainesville, GA was selected to serve as the fourth pastor. There were great needs at Friendship and much work to be done. Sacrifices had to be made to make up for the loss of members who had followed Rev. Porter to Mount Zion. Rev. Hunter Green did not feel equal to the task.
Rev. Crawford of Atlanta, GA was called to serve as the fifth pastor. He served for six years and then resigned to accept the call at another church. The Rev. Davis of Gainesville, GA became the sixth pastor of Friendship. He tarried a short while and disappeared. The Rev. Brown of Anderson, SC was called as the seventh pastor and very little is known about his tenure.
Rev. G. G. Griffin was called as the eighth pastor. He was a great gospel preacher and added many members to the church. The Rev. Glenn of Morehouse College was called as the ninth pastor in 1917. Up to this time there had been little progress other than the increase of church membership. Everything slowly moved forward.
Rev. J. H. Brown, Principal of Gerrold Baptist Institute of Athens, GA accepted the call and became Friendship's tenth pastor. He was an educator, organizer, builder and a people person. He had great vision and worked for the advancement of the people. Plans were made and put in process to build a new church. A building site was purchased at the corner of Sage and Sautee Streets. The pastor with his faithful officers secured the use of the Toccoa High School for religious worship and began at once to build the church. Before any part of the new church was completed Rev. Brown resigned.
The eleventh pastor was the Rev. J. H. Martin who worked to complete the plans already in place to erect the new church. The basement was completed and used for services. Rev. Martin resigned in 1922.
The twelfth pastor, Rev. J. H. Allen, was called in May 1922. His pastorate was very short. In October of the same year Rev. Allen passed away.
The thirteenth pastor, Rev. Matthew Pulliam, was then called. Construction continued, a great financial campaign began, rallies were held, pledges were made; members of the church, out of town friends and the local community gave liberally. Everyone worked tirelessly, and in 1925 the church was completed. Members of the beloved Friendship were often heard quoting part of Psalms 126, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad”. Things were looking well for Friendship, and then Rev. Pulliam resigned to accept the call to a church in the East.
Friendship’s fourteenth Pastor, Rev. H. B. Fortson of Hartwell, GA was then called. The indebtedness of the church was still large. All departments of the church were put in working order for religious progress. While pastoring at Friendship, Rev. Fortson served as moderator of the Savannah River Association. He later resigned to accept a call to pastor St. John Baptist Church in Gainesville, GA.
Rev. C. K. Steele, a student of Morehouse College, was called as Friendship’s fifteenth
Pastor. His pastorate lasted only one year, but much progress was made. He organized the Sunbeam Band for ages 3 to 12, and the Junior Choir for ages 12 to young adult. The purpose of these organizations was to train the young people in religious leadership. Rev. Steele resigned and accepted a call in West Virginia.
Rev. N. T. Young, a student at Morehouse College was asked to fill in until a pastor was called. After conducting services for several Sundays, Rev. Young was called as the sixteenth pastor. It was during his pastorate that the indebtedness of the church was resolved and the mortgage was burned. He remained at Friendship from 1938-1940 and then accepted a call to Rockmart, GA.
The seventeenth pastor was Rev. R. L. Freeman of Atlanta, GA. He served from
1940 -1943. Rev. Freeman also served as Principal of Toccoa High School while he was in Toccoa.
Rev. D. J. Carter was called, and became the eighteenth pastor. After much confusion, Rev. Carter resigned. Friendship was again without a pastor.
Rev. William Garrison of Montgomery, AL was called as the nineteenth pastor. During his pastorate, new pews and carpet were installed in the sanctuary. Rev. Garrison served Friendship for fourteen years, from 1946 to 1960. He resigned and moved to Atlanta, GA.
The spring of 1960 found Friendship without a pastor. Several ministers were invited to preach, one being Rev. G. E. Darrisaw of Athens, GA who was a student at Morehouse College. Rev. Darrisaw preached a gospel sermon with so much power that it was deeply felt by all present. He was invited to preach again several weeks later. Before leaving that day the officers asked him to consider a call as Friendship’s next pastor. The call was accepted and he became the church's twentieth pastor. During his ministry the basement of the church was remodeled. In January 1968, after serving eight years, Rev. Darrisaw resigned and moved to the Georgia Coast.
Rev. Calhoun Sims of Atlanta, GA was called as the twenty-first pastor. During his leadership Friendship had several renovation projects, the churches stained glass windows were enhanced for security and new members were gained. The church also acquired a new parsonage. Rev. Sims served as pastor from 1968-1974; in March of 1974 he accepted the call to a church in Rome, GA.
On July 29, 1974 Rev. Littleton Price was called as Friendship’s twenty-second pastor. Sunday, September 29, 1974 marked another highlight in Friendship’s history as Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. - then pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church Atlanta, GA, worshipped with Friendship during the installation service of Rev. Price.
During Rev. Price’s leadership a church nursery ministry was established, the Baptist Training Union and Sunday school were revitalized and the organization of the New Generation church, which included counseling and instruction periods with the children of the church. Rev. Price served as pastor from 1974-1975. In December 1975, Rev. Price resigned.
The Rev. Jonathan Grant of Jackson, Mississippi agreed to serve as interim pastor. In May 1976 he graduated from the school of Theology at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. Rev. Grant and his family were a great inspiration to the church and community. He served for one year.
Friendship’s twenty-third pastor was The Rev. Eddie J. Davis; he served from 1977-1980, and then relocated to Cairo, GA.
Rev. Parnell Mosley accepted the call to become the twenty-forth pastor. A native of Hancock County, Sparta, GA, Rev. Mosley was one of the most dynamic speakers to grace the Friendship pulpit. He served from 1981-1983, and then resigned to accept the call to pastor Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.
In 1983 Rev. Benjamin Hinton a native of Hamilton, GA accepted the call to become Friendship’s twenty-fifth pastor. During his leadership at Friendship the parsonage was renovated, plans were formed to renovate the basement of the church, and pave the parking lot adjacent to the present sanctuary. In 1991 Rev. Hinton resigned to accept the call to pastor in Gastonia, NC.
Rev. Hinton was Friendship’s pastor during its 100th anniversary celebration, and guest speaker for the 130th church anniversary event in 2017.
In March 1992 Rev. Karl D. Moore was called as the twenty-sixth pastor of Friendship. Under Rev. Moore’s leadership, land was purchased as a future church site, improvements were made to secure the stained glass windows, and the outside structure was also enhanced. A PA system was added to the sanctuary as well as new seating for the choir loft. In October 2000, Rev. Moore resigned to accept the call to pastor Clarkston First Baptist in Clarkston, GA.
On the first Sunday in January, 2001 Rev. Jerry H. Dodd of Marietta, GA began his leadership at Friendship, and became its twenty-seventh pastor. Under Rev. Dodd’s leadership the importance of youth recognition was stressed, as well as training and fellowship. He initiated Deacons, Mother’s/Deaconess, and New Member Training. The property across the street from the church was acquired for off-street parking. A new roof was installed on the parsonage and the church. The church office space was expanded; handicapped rails, access ramp and door were installed. Rev. Danny Ford was added to the ministerial staff as Associate Pastor. In October 2015 Rev. Dodd informed the congregation of his decision to retire from the ministry.
On March 5, 2017 the Rev. Damion S. Hutchins became Friendship’s twenty-eighth pastor. During the first twelve months of his leadership, 18 new members were added to the church roll, TV monitors and visual equipment were added to the sanctuary. A new HVAC system was installed in the church. This procedure revealed the need for extensive electrical work necessary to re-wire the church. The use of Social Media to keep members and the community abreast of upcoming events and sermon topics was implemented. Complete renovation of the church parsonage was completed; the property next door to the church basement entrance was purchased. “Real, Relevant and Relational” was adopted as the church motto, and emphasis on excellence and efficiency in worship service is being adhered to. In September 2021, Rev. Hutchins resigned.
The Fall of 2021 found Friendship without a pastor. Reverend Tramon Butts, Associate Minister at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Flowery Branch, Georgia was asked to fill in and preach while the pastoral search committee interviewed potential pastors. Several ministers were invited to preach. After months of interviewing, Rev. Tramon Butts was elected as the twenty-ninth pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in September 2022. He was installed as pastor on October 16, 2022.
The journey continues...
Latest revision: December 2022