Slayden Baptist Church
History since 1870
Slayden Baptist Church was organized in 1870 and known as The Alexandria Baptist Church. This historic church had its beginning in a log cabin schoolhouse which was located at the present site of the Slayden Cemetery on the road between Slayden, Mississippi and Moscow, Tennessee. Reverend Bateman was the first pastor and moderator. There were nine charter members of the church: Mr. John Hurdle and his wife, Mrs. Margaret Watkins Hurdle, Mr. and Mrs. Everett Slayden, Mr. and Mrs. Slocum, Miss Mattie McCandless, Miss Nannie McCandless, and Reverend Bateman. According to local tradition there was a house where meetings were held before the Civil War, but the church was not officially organized until 1870.
The first building was a frame clapboard style and was erected about 1875. It had two doors at the entrance, one for the women and one for the men, thus for years men sat on the left side and the women on the right side. It remained until 1912 when the church decided to move up to the village of Slayden. H. B. Russum was the pastor and after serving long and faithfully, he resigned and retired from the ministry. He was called back into service in April of 1920 to fill the pulpit until the church called Rev. H. L. Knight in the year of 1921. Also, in the 1920's, WMU, missions education, was begun by Cricket Hurdle, Pearl Mackey, and Versie Watkins.
Upon retiring, H. B. Russum gave his lot to the church which was formally turned over for use in 1926. A nice pastorium was erected on this lot. In 1953, the pastorium was traded for another house which was located on some of the land accompanying our present grounds.
The decision to move the church to the village of Slayden called for the erection of a new building which was located on the Lamar Road just east of the crossroads. The members serving on the committee were: J.F. Valentine, J.O. Hurdle, R.P. McCandless, B.F. McDugle, and H.B. Watkins. The building came about by the members pledging to do or to have done a certain number of days work. In 1918, the annex was added to the west side of the original building. Services and worship were held in the church building until 1940, when a survey of Highway 72 went right through the church. Unable to move the building, a new brick veneer church was built by the labor of its membership while W.R. Medling was pastor in 1940. It was dedicated, free of debt, during the pastorate of Rev. R. O. Bankston in 1946. An educational annex was added in 1965 along with the remodeling of the sanctuary. The baptistry was donated by Mrs. Janie Catherine Hurdle of Mt. Pleasant, Mississippi in memory of her husband Cooper Hurdle.
Slayden Baptist Church has progressed from services once a month to half-time and then to threes Sundays per month in 1926, reverting to two Sundays in 1938 and then to full time since 1950; from a pump organ to a piano to an electric organ in 1952. Its progression also included from singing schools once a year to a regular choir director. Every resident member has been receiving the Baptist Record since 1942. The first Vacation Bible School was held in 1939. A unified budget was first adopted in 1955.
A new pastorium was built in 1974 on property donated by Sallie R. Brewer with one-half the building cost donated by Mrs. I.J. Hurdle & Sons Gin Company. The following men were elected as trustees for the church property: Byron Hurdle Sr., Cornell Hurdle, Simpson Hurdle, Bill Barry, and O.T. Carpenter. They were given the authority to negotiate a loan from the Slayden Branch of the Bank of Holly Springs for the amount to complete the building of the new pastorium. On January 26, 1975, a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held. Pastor Ray Butler and family became the first occupants. In February of 1975, the first phone was installed in the church. In June of 1975, a Constitution & By-Laws was adopted by the church.
In October of 1979, the church property to be a future building site. This included an activity center and softball field, approximately 14 acres of school property which was the old Marshall County Agricultural High School. The activity center and gymnasium still remain in use. The other building were demolished by Sam Allen, and the excavation was done by Alan Hurdle.
1980 was also a busy year for the church. In March, the pulpit chair were re-upholstered. The needlework was designed by Olive Nell Gamble and was executed by her along with Mrs. Sallie R. Brewer and Mrs. Lois Mackey. In August of 1980, Kathy Crawford was engaged as the first part-time church secretary. In the purchase of the school property, the grand piano was acquired and Charles King was responsible for having the instrument parts repaired and replaced as well as his refinishing of the wood. Also, during this year, the church library was re-activated by Mrs. Venie Hurdle and Mrs. Ruby McCandless. The church library remains active today led by the tireless work of Mrs. Ruth Gamble (deceased) and her daughter Olive Nell Gamble.
In 1981, a newsletter print out began at the suggestion of church member Mrs. Nandine Marengo. The newsletter has remained in effect under the name of "The Slayden Chims" and presently "The Encourager".
In February 1982, five members (Pastor Lee Castle, Mark Hunsucker, Paul Hurdle, Carl Sanders, and Winfred Allen) made a mission trip to Marin County, California to aid mud-slide victims, one of the first of many mission trips.
Also, in 1982, the composite pictures of our pastors and music directors had been mounted, framed, and donated by Mrs. Connie Allen. A cook book was first worked on in the 1980s by Linda Russell and Kitty King and another was published in 1991, spearheaded by Linda Russell. The publishing and selling of cook books featuring our members' recipes became a further brainchild of Katey Jones. This has become a very good fundraiser and each new edition is much awaited by the neighboring communities. Slayden Cookbooks are still being made to this day.
In 1994, the present sanctuary was completed, occupying the same spot as the old school on the hill. Much of this history was compiled years ago by members of Slayden Baptist Church, Judy Hurdle and Mrs. Sallie R. Brewer (deceased), a former teacher at Marshall County Agriculture High School.
The church has gone through many changes over the years:
from log cabin to clap board to brick veneer,
from unfinished floors to oiled ones to hard finished to carpet,
from plain glass windows to stained glass to screens to storm windows,
from hand fans to attic fans to window air conditioners to central air,
from wood stove to gas heaters to central heat,
from services once each month to half time to three Sundays to full time,
from a pump organ to piano to electric organ, keyboard, guitars, and drums,
from volunteer music leaders to paid ones,
from fellowship meals under trees to a fellowship hall,
from the drinking of wine out of the same cup to individual cups,
from holding all Sunday School classes in the sanctuary to individual rooms,
from seating women on the right and men on the left and children down front to mingled seating, and
from manual copy machines with blank ink to a modern copier to computers.
Through it all, one thing has remained constant -
Bible teaching and preaching of the Word of Jesus Christ.