Church Relocation

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Atlanta, Georgia started over a century ago when George King and Dr. C. F. Curtis began a Sabbath School with six adults and six children. In 1888, a church was organized by pastor S. H. Lane. The fifteen charter members held their first services in a tool shed at the corner of South Boulevard and Bryant Street. From that humble beginning, the church has expanded until today Seventh-day Adventists in the greater Atlanta area number more than 7,000 in 26 churches.

Annals of the Atlanta North Church show the names of families whose lives touched each other in a personal relationship; people who made selfless contributions and set their sights on establishing God’s work and building monuments to honor His name. Many members of the Atlanta North Church can trace their family ties back to the First Church on Fair Stree (1892-1918), to the Cherokee Avenue Church (1918-1939), or to the Beverly Road Church (1937-1989). In this sense, the Atlanta North Church is one of the “mother” churches for this great metropolitan area of the Southland.

On November 29, 1987 the church held the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Atlanta North Church located at 5123 Chamblee-Dunwoody road in Dunwoody, Georgia.

Seventh-day Adventist publications penetrated the territory of the present Georgia-Cumberland Conference in 1872, four years before the first Seventh-day Adventist workers arrived, resulting in the conversion of J. A. Killingworth and his family of Griffin, Georgia. Rufus Eugene Seagraves learned about the Seventh-day Adventist health principles from a Dr. Irwin in 1875 and was baptized three years later by C.O. Taylor, the first denominational worker in Georgia. Taylor came to the South Georgia town of Quitman in the autumn of 1876. Knowing of no other Seventh-day Adventists in the state, he engaged in personal evangelism. The next spring he learned of the Killingworths through the Review and Herald. On his way north to visit them in 1877, he passed through Houston County, where he won J. S. Killen, a planter and lawyer, along with some of his friends and some employees who formerly has been his slaves. Later four of Killen’s sons and three daughters entered the colporteur work, one of them receiving local ministerial credentials in the 1880′s. In 1876, the same year that Taylor arrived in Georgia, a church was organized in the present Georgia-Cumberland Conference territory in Tennessee as a result of the work of Orlando Soule, who came to visit a Seventh-day Adventist friend named Wetherby, who had moved from Michigan to Sparta, Tennessee, on the edge of the Cumberland Plateau. Asked to lecture there, Soule remained to preach in several places, was ordained by D. M. Canright in May, and built up the first church in the conference area, the Mount Gilead church, not many miles from Sparta. He organized the church in the autumn, with Patrick D. Moyers, his first convert, as elder. Moyers, one of the earliest Southern-born Seventh-day Adventist preachers, was a strong pillar at Mount Gilead and later at Graysville, Tennessee. Early in the history of the Quitman, Georgia, group of converts, one of the members, Samuel Mitchell, was arrested in July 1878 for plowing in his field on Sunday. In poor health, he could not endure the damp cell and became ill after serving 15 days of his 30-day sentence. Refusing on the one hand to take money that a member of Congress offered for his release, and on the other to promise that he would not work on Sunday if he were released, he died a martyr to Sunday law enforcement on Feb. 4, 1879. Two colporteurs, George A. King and Charles F. Curtis, came to Georgia in 1885 to sell the books Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith, and Sunshine at Home, and returned North with enthusiastic reports of future prospects for the South. At the 1886 General Conference, Curtis, a student at Battle CreekCollege, and his fiancee, whom he married shortly thereafter, were asked to work in Atlanta with George W. Anglebarger, who was to head a city mission. Curtis was to look after the canvassing work, Mrs. Anglebarger was to be the “mission mother,” and Mrs. Curtis the Bible instructor. The two couples reached Atlanta March 3, 1887, a few months after the arrival of Charles Bliss, the minister in charge of the Georgia mission field, who had already won one convert in meetings conducted in Jonesboro. After five weeks of a damp spring in Atlanta, Anglebarger, whose health had failed, moved with his wife to Colorado. A few days later, they were replaced by three Michigan Bible instructors, Clara Conklin, Anna Thomas, and Mrs. Charles Swartous, and Charles Swartout, a colporteur. Curtis took charge of the city mission. A Review and Herald office was established in Atlanta in 1889 and remained active until the Southern Publishing Association in Tennessee was formed in 1901. Lane and his half brother, Dr. O.C. Godsmark, held a tent series in Athens, Georgia, in 1889. That same year, Georgia’s first Seventh-day Adventist camp meeting, with about 60 in attendance, was held at Reynolds, where a few people were already observing the Sabbath. Also in that year, two ministers, M.G. Huffman, of Indiana, and L.T. Crisler, of Florida, conducted tent meetings at Alpharetta, Georgia, and organized a company, which later became a church.The group conducted meetings in Atlanta and Fort Valley. On the advice of S.H. Lane, who replaced Bliss in Georgia and Florida in 1887, the Atlanta mission was closed because of a depression, and the workers moved to a less expensive home and in it conducted Sabbath and weeknight meetings. Later, the headquarters were moved to the southeast section of the city, where a church was organized in the fall of 1888. Curtis, then Georgia Tract Society director, was also assigned Florida and South Carolina. With the help of P.D. Moyers and J.W. Scoles, E.R. Gillett built a church in Graysville, Tennessee, a small town 30 miles north of Chattanooga, to which he had moved in 1885. J.M. Rees organized a group of ten members there on Sept. 8, 1888. The following year, the General Conference Committee appointed R.M. Kilgore president of District No. 2 (Southern District), and in 1890, he came to the South with his secretary, Arthur W. Spalding, and made Graysville his headquarters. The town remained headquarters for the Southern District for the next 12 years. Eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee were organized in 1889 as the Cumberland Mission. Georgia Southern Mission. G.T. Wilson, conducting tent meetings, was responsible for establishing a church in 1890 at Barwick, Georgia, not far from Quitman. The 1892 General Conference authorized A.P. Heacock to conduct tent meetings in the Cumberland Mission and Wilson in Georgia. The Southern Training School, founded at Graysville, Tennessee, in 1892 and later moved to Collegedale, Tennessee, was the parent of the present Southern Adventist University. In 1893, churches were organized by J.W. Scoles at Webster, Roane County, Tennessee, by W.A. McCutchen at Gainesville, Georgia, and by Grant Adkins in Knoxville, Tennessee. Also at Knoxville, following quiet house-to-house Bible studies, a company of African-American converts was organized. On Nov. 19, W.A. McCutchen and E.C. Keck, who had recently arrived from Battle Creek, were arrested for building benches for a new church school in Gainesville, Georgia, on Sunday. The case was tried twice and finally dismissed on the grounds that the labor performed by the men was not of their ordinary calling. The school was opened in 1893 and accepted children in elementary, and for a time, in secondary, grades. By June 30, tithe for the previous 12 months in the Cumberland Mission had risen to $844 and in Georgia to $898. Late in 1894, there were 20 Graysville and Dayton, Tennessee, members jailed for Sunday labor and sentenced to the chain gang. The controversy temporarily closed the Graysville school.
At camp meeting, in Harriman, Tennessee, Sept. 14, 1900, the Cumberland Mission was organized into the Cumberland Conference, with Smith Sharp as president. There were 450 members, one ordained minister, and two licensed ministers. Tithe amounted to about $3,800 that year. Between Aug. 9 and 19, 1901, at camp meeting at Austell, Georgia, the Georgia Conference, embracing the state of Georgia, was organized with C.A. Hall as president. When the Southeastern Union Conference was organized, Jan. 12, 1908, the Cumberland Conference was reduced to include only eastern Tennessee (with the western boundary on the west side of the counties of Clay, Jackson, Putnam, White, Warren, Grundy, and Marion), and was left with a membership of 530, with 12 churches and 5 elementary schools. By 1909, the following counties in northwest Georgia: Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, Murray, Fanin, and Gilmer; and in Tennessee: Dekalb, Smith, and Macon, were also listed as belonging to the Cumberland Conference.A church was organized at Macon, Georgia, in 1898. Later, churches were organized in Tennessee at Brayton (1901), Cleveland (1903), Daylight (1904), and Chattanooga (1907). The Southern Sanitarium at Graysville was completed in 1904. Another denominational sanitarium was established in Atlanta in 1903 near the conference headquarters. During the next ten years, privately operated treatment rooms and sanitariums were opened in Knoxville, in Chattanooga, and at East Lake in Atlanta, the last named operated by Dr. D.F. Curtis. The Cumberland Industrial School was established by Clifford G. Howell at McMinnville, Tennessee, in 1902, and in 1907, it had an enrollment of 23. In 1905, another intermediate school was developed from a church school at the Alpharetta, Georgia, which in 1915 reverted to the local church. Churches were organized in Athens, Tennessee (1910), Savannah, Georgia (1911), and Lenoir City, Tennessee (1912), Greeneville, Tennessee (1913), and Stonewall, Georgia (1914 – Near present day, Union City)). Also in 1914, a self-supporting school was established at Reeves, Georgia, near Calhoun, with a church of 31 members, most of whom had moved there from California. In 1915, churches were organized at Fitzgerald, Georgia; Johnson City and Bristol, Tennessee. Work in Johnson City dates back to the work of J.M. Rees in 1887.
As a result of large-scale evangelism in Atlanta by C.B. Haynes in 1912, 1914, 1917, and 1918, more than 150 were baptized and a new church was built. In 1915, there were 491 members in 15 Georgia Conference churches, and 604 members in 15 Cumberland Conference churches. In 1918, the counties of Echols, Clinch, Charlton, Ware, Pierce, Wayne, Camden, Glynn, and McIntosh in the southeast corner of Georgia were transferred to the Florida Conference, and the northwest Georgia, Murray, Fannin, and Gilmer were returned from the Cumberland Conference. A year later, 18 western counties of North Carolina were added to the Cumberland Conference (none of which were retained after 1932, except Cherokee). In 1922, the conference headquarters was established adjacent to the Atlanta First church on Cherokee Avenue. Then in 1924, seven more northwest Georgia counties of Whitfield, counties went back to the Cumberland Conference. The General Conference, through Dr. J.R. Mitchell, arranged for Seventh-day Adventist students to attend the Atlanta Southern Dental School in 1934 and operated a student home until 1948. Additional self-supporting hospitals include in Tennessee, Little Creek Sanitarium, Hospital and School (organized in 1940) at Concord; Laurelbrook Hospital and School, Dayton. Takoma Hospital at Greeneville, Tennessee, built by Dr. L.E. Coolidge in 1927, was given to the Southern Union in 1954. Wildwood Sanitarium was organized in 1942 at Wildwood, Georgia. In 1958, the conference assumed the operation of two county hospitals in Georgia-Watkins Memorial Hospital at Ellijay and Louis Smith Memorial Hospital Lakeland. In 1974, these were transferred to the Southern Adventist Health and Hospital Systems, Inc.