There is one church in Paulding County that reportedly was started by a group of slaves.
Jason Edwards, a Dallas resident who has researched many of the area’s historic buildings, said on the Paulding Roots Facebook page that a group of slave members of Pumpkin Vine Baptist Church formed the congregation of Mars Hill Baptist Church, the county’s first black church, in 1867. Its building, a white, wooden structure with dormers and a steeple, on Georgia Highway 61 South was built in the early 1900s by Jeff Baulding. The book Paulding County: Its People and Places by W.A. Foster Jr. states that Baulding never learned how to write “but had a remarkable talent for architecture.”
As of 1983, when Foster’s book was published, the church was 115 years old and had had 13 pastors. The last pastor listed in the history book was W.R. Weddington, who went to school in Hiram before attending Washington High School in Atlanta and later Morehouse School of Religion.
In 1949, Weddington split his time between three churches, preaching at Mars Hill on the first Sunday of the month, in Villa Rica on the second and fourth Sundays, and at Zion Hill Baptist Church on the third Sunday of the month. At that time, men and women sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary, and the church’s deacons sat together in an area in the front known as “Amen Corner.”
The church with a congregation of about 40 people is still going strong 145 years after it began and has services every Sunday morning as well as Bible study on Wednesday nights.
“The church is beautiful outside and in,” said Dale Loudermilk, a member of the Paulding County Genealogy Society, who has toured the church. “It is well maintained and the membership is very active. To me, it is one of the prettiest houses of worship in Paulding County.”