Antioch Church

History of
Antioch Baptist Church

The Church of United Baptists was constituted in Bates Co., Missouri on Saturday before the first Lord's day in November 1867” (2 November).  The meeting place was the Pettis schoolhouse in Deepwater Township and the group adopted the name "The United Baptist Church of Christ" at Antioch.  (Note: The Pettis schoolhouse was about 2 miles S.E. of where the church was.)  The Rev. Lewis McComb gave the land and enough land to the east of the church for a cemetery.

 "The following brethren and sisters whose names underneath subscribed met at the Pettis schoolhouse on Saturday before the 3rd Lord's day in November 1867 and according to previous arrangements called on Brethren Elder James Harvey and Elder Lewis McComb and deacon Ira Belisle as a presbytery to constitute us into a church of Christ to be known as the "United Church of Christ" at Antioch.  Names of the members that went into the constitution: Lewis McComb, Ira Belisle, Johnathan B. Belisle, Ira F. Belisle, Jane Burnett, Amy Burnett, M. J. Burnett, Ellen S. Burnett, Leucinda Belisle, Mary J. (Radford) McComb, Hannah Moore, Elizabeth Board [sic], Rebecca Wainscott, Ansalina Wigger.

 On motion and second agree in the absence of any written "Articles of Faith" to be constituted and adopt the New Testament as our "Articles of Faith" and church covenant as commonly used by the United Baptists as set forth in the encyclopedia of religious knowledge.

 After being organized an opportunity was offered for reception of members.  Came forward, Bro. Wm. B. Belisle and Sister Milbe F. Belisle and were received into the fellowship of the church.  The charge was delivered by Elder James Harvey (from the 2nd chapter of Ephesians).  The church then went into selection of officers and pastor.  Elder Lewis McComb was chosen pastor, Ira Belisle, deacon and Wm. B. Belisle, Clerk."

 Antioch Church had the distinction of being in three counties although the church never moved.  It was first in Van Buren County then Cass and Vernon County and later Bates County was formed.  The Church was first in the Tebo Baptist Association then transferred to Butler Baptist Association in 1889.

From a clipping from Republican Press Butler Feb 8, 1934

Antioch Church Burned
As Citadel of Pioneer Fortitude and
Virtue, Country Meeting House
Will Remain in Memory

“One day two weeks ago a wood burning engine(it was a thresher) jolting along on a rocky road past a country church on a hill, threw sparks high into the air and  soon the church roof, which had given harbor to one of them, was ablaze.  A sheet of flame circled in the air about it, and the place that had know the wooden building for so many years, knew it no more.  Or so runs the story of the recent burning of Antioch church between Spruce and Ballard, Bates county villages.

The church had not been in frequent use for some time but was well equipped and its contents, including a piano, were destroyed.  The congregation had been reduced gradually by removal and other changes, but even so, it is said, a sentiment in favor of rebuilding exists.  The churchyard contains the graves of some of the earliest settlers of the county, and whether or not the building is restored, memory will show always to many, the little church upon the rocky hill.

 The church had not been in use for sometime but was well equipped and its contents including a piano and records were destroyed.  The church yard contains the graves of some of the earliest settlers of the county.  The building which was burned was the second church there and was built in 1892.

The history of Antioch church, as told by Walter McComb of its neighborhood, is closely bound up with the history of Bates county and Spruce township.   The building that was burned the other day was the second Antioch, and it was built in 1892, and dedicated the next year.  But many years earlier, the original edifice was placed on the same hill.

Rev. Lewis McComb, a pioneer Baptist preacher of this section, was born in Tennessee, came west by successive stages and in 1848, settled on a farm in Van Buren County, Missouri, which later became Vernon county, and still later, Bates.  There he began a service of helpfulness and good will to his fellow pioneers that makes his name remembered still.  He gave a tract of land off of one corner of his farm, for a churchyard, and served for seventeen years as pastor of the church—which was Antioch.

Pioneer neighbors went together into the woods and cut and hewed the timbers for the building and everyone had a hand in the raising of its walls.  Later, within the memory of Walter McComb, who is the son of Reverend McComb, the inside of the building was sealed.   The front door was a double one, wide enough for a team and wagon to pass through, Mr. McCombs remembers.  Revivals and other neighborhood meetings were held there, and wagon seats and chairs brought in the wagons from home were used to increase the seating capacity.

Lewis McComb, H.M. Durrett and W.N. Knorp were the building committee.  The first two sleep in the burying ground at Antioch.  Mr. Knorp went to California in the early days.

Antioch was used as a school house for a time after the Pettus school burned and before Enterprise was built.

Besides Lewis McComb, some pastors of the church—as Walter McCombs recalls them—have been John Williams, Robert Lollar, A.M. Cornelius and a Brother Scott.  Lewis W. Keele of Butler served the congregation for a while several years ago, and Harry Allen of Bolivar more recently.

Source:  The Republican Press, Butler, Missouri, Thurscay, February 8, 1934, page 1

This building, that burned, faced the west with two ordinary doors in the west, one to the north and one to the south side of the building.  Another door was in the east.  It was lighted with wall kerosene lamps on a bracket with a reflector.  In the 1920's these were replaced by Coleman lamps.  Heat was a set-in coal stove near the center front.  Seating capacity was 175 and building valued at $500.00. 

Other early pastors were W. C. Self, Lewis Keele, W. S. Weir. Harry Allen of Bolivar who was the last pastor in 1927.  Clyde Crabtree was the last church clerk.  Clay Durrett was last treasurer.

In 1927 the member(ship) was 27 with three additions that year and the pastor's salary was $15 for the one Sunday service.  Many times the money in the collection did not supply this and the men met at the back of the church to make up the rest.  Special aid of $30 was given by the Association in 1925 to help Antioch.  There was no associational report after 1927.

The cemetery was well kept by Leslie Durrett of Butler.  No burials there now although in 1969 Mrs. Clay Durrett of California was brought to be buried by the side of her husband.  Currently, (2008) Ross and WandaWainscott and family now care for the cemetery at their own expense.  Any help to cover gasoline expenses is appreciated.

“Antioch served of much value to the development of the spiritual life of the pioneer community and in the training and growth of the members and their children into the life of the community or elsewhere in the Lord's field of service.  Times have changed making a small congregation hard to survive but God's word is changeless and his services rewarding."   - Bessie McComb Wallace

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