Christian Unity Baptist Association — Statistical Table
Ashe County, NC; Johnson County, TN; Grayson County, Virginia 1935-1975
The Christian Unity Association was formed in 1935 mainly through the efforts of three individuals; Francis Lee Sturgill, F. Carl Sturgill, and Nancy Owens. The first two were members of the Zion Hill Baptist Church on Big Helton Creek, in Ashe County, North Carolina. Nancy Owens was a member of a congregation known as Bethel in Johnson County, TN.
The organizational session was held at Zion Hill Church September 27-28, 1935. Frank Sturgill was chosen moderator and F. Carl Sturgill was elected clerk. Six congregations were represented at this first meeting: Bethel of Johnson County, Tennessee; Pleasant Home, Ashe County, North Carolina; Sugar Grove, Ashe County, North Carolina; Union, Ashe County, North Carolina, Wolf Knob of Grayson County, Virginia; and Zion Hill Church of Ashe County, North Carolina.
Some of these churches were remnants of the Macedonia Regular Baptist Association which existed from 1910-1916. Bethel Church was a relatively new congregation, as was Wolf Knob and Pleasant Home. Sugar Grove, Union and Zion Hill had been members of the Macedonia Association; and prior to that of the Mountain Union Association. Zion Hill Church was formed in 1868 from members of Big Helton Primitive Baptist Church who had been excluded for being members of the Heroes of America or Union League. Union Church was formed in 1853 as a Missionary Baptist congregation, and was a member of the Jefferson Baptist Association for some years.
Theologically, the Christian Unity Baptist Association was something new for the Mountains of the Upper New River Valley. The first major difference was the admission of women as ministers. Nancy Owen and Carrie Poe both preached at the organizational session. The second major point was the idea that individuals could fall from grace, and that one needed to continually confess their sins to remain in grace. The third major difference in the Christian Unity Association and its predecessors was the practice of “open communion.” By that, it is meant that anyone who professed to be a christian was welcome to participate in their communion services. Their predecessors practiced “closed communion.” That is to say that only members of those churches and sister congregations of the “same faith and order” were permitted to partake during the communion service. The Christian Unity Association continued the rite of foot-washing as an ordinance of the church like the Mountain Union Association. While most of the Primitive Baptist Churches in the area also practice foot-washing, as an example, they do not consider it an ordinance of the church.
The Articles of Faith, Constitution, Rules of Decorum, and Church Covenant prepared at this first meeting are presented below:
ARTICLES OF FAITH
- We believe in one only true and living God, and in the God head are Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and these three are one in purpose.
John 17:3, I Thes. 1:9, Matt. 28:19, John 14:26, I John 5:7, I Pet. 1:2.
- We believe the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, is the scriptural word of God given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
John 5:39, Rom. 16:25-26,11 Tim. 3:15-17, Acts 28:23-28, II Pet. 1:20-21. We believe in using only the King James version of the Bible.
- We believe the Bible is a safe rule of faith, and the New Testament interpreted by the Holy Spirit is the only rule of practice for the Christian Church.
Gal. 6:16, Rom. 13:1-4, Heb. 8:8-13, John 16:13-14, Matt. 7:21, Rev. 22:14-15.
- We believe that all mankind who are accountable to God for sin are fallen and depraved by sin and in this state they possess no natural ability to reinstate themselves in favor with God.
Rom. 3:10-23 and 5:12-21 and 7:14-25,1 Cor. 2:14, Eph. 2:1-3, John 5:1-8 and 6:44.
- We believe that Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man, providing a way of salvation through regeneration for the souls of all who are accountable to God for sin.
Heb. 2:9, Tit. 2:11-14,1 John 2:1-2, Tit. 3:4-7, Rom. 1:16, I Tim. 2:3-6.
- We believe in the redemption of the bodies of saints, infants, and idiots; the latter two not being responsible for sin do not need regeneration of spirit.
Eph. 1:11-14, Rom. 8:17-23, Phil. 2:20-21, Matt. 19:13-15, Rom. 5:13 and 7:7-9.
- We believe that sinners can partake of the divine benefits of the grace of God only by faith and repentance, and that they are called, convicted, converted, regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and that all who are thus born again by the Spirit of God and endure to the end shall be saved.
Acts 20-21, Luke 24:46-47, Luke 13:1-5, Rom. 3:21-31, Psalm 50:1, John 16:7-11, Psalm 19:7, Tit. 3:5, I Cor. 6:9-11, John 3:3-8, Matt. 24:13, Heb. 3:6-14, Heb. 61-15,1 Cor. 10:1-12, Rom. 2:7-11, Rev. 21:7-8.
- We believe that baptism, by immersion in water, the Lord’s Supper and feet washing are ordinances instituted by Jesus Christ to be practiced by the church and that regeneration or the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the qualification for participation in either ordinance.
Matt. 3:16, Acts 8:3~39, Rom. 6:3-4, Matt. 26:26-30, John 13:4-17, Acts 1:5,1 Cor. 12-13.
- We believe in the unity, liberty and equality of God’s children.
Psalm 133:1-3, Eph. 4:3-16, II Cor. 3:17, Gal. 5:1, Luke 4:18, Matt. 20:12, Rom. 8:16-21, John 17:20-23, Luke 20:34-38.
- We believe the church is composed of all who are born of the Spirit of God.
Matt. 16:18, Acts 2:41-47, Acts 20:28, Heb. 12:22-23, Eph. 2:19-22, Heb. 2:11-12, I Pet. 1:22-23, John 3:3-8, I John 5:1, I Pet. 2:5, Rev. 21:27.
- We believe in a God called ministry preaching the word of God by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and administering the ordinance of baptism and participating in the Lord’s Supper and feet washing.
Matt. 10:1-7, Acts 9:1-20, Rom. 1:1, I Cor. 2:1-5, I Pet. 1:12, II Pet. 1:21, I Cor. 11:23-29, I Tim 4:12, II Tim. 2:6 and 4:1-5.
- We believe in the resurrection of the body, both of the just and the unjust, they that have done good to the resurrection of life and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation and that the joys of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
I Cor. 15:35-54, Acts 24:15, John 5:28-29, Acts 17:31-32, II Thes. 1:7-10, Matt. 25:31-46,1 Thes. 4:13-18, Matt. 12:41-42, Rev. 20:12-15.
- The name of this union shall be Christian Unity Baptist Association.
- The chief aim of this Association shall be to glorify God, by preaching his word, by contending for and trying to preserve a spirit of peace and love among Christians and by giving advice in matters of difficulty to churches requesting the same.
- The Association shall be composed of delegates duly chosen and sent by the various churches in the Union to represent them in the Association and each church shall be entitled to three delegates, and the ordained Elders and Deacons that are in good standing are automatically standing delegates to the Association.
- When the delegates present their letters they shall be entitled to their seats. The letters should give the following information: 1. Names of delegates. 2. Number in fellowship. 3. Gain by experience and baptism, by letters, by application and by restoration. 4. Loss by death, dismissed by letter and excluded since last Association. 5. Ministers ordained and licensed and their addresses. 6. Amount of associational fund. 7. Time of church conference.
- The Association, when convened, shall be governed by a regular decorum, and shall have no power to lord it over God’s heritage, nor shall it have any ecclesiastical power over churches, nor shall it infringe upon any internal right of any church. It may correspond with sister Associations and invite brethren and sisters who are in good standing and will come with a message of peace and love to a seat in the Association.
- At each annual session of the Association there shall be chosen a Moderator and a Clerk and Treasurer who shall serve until their successors are elected, provided that they remain faithful to God and the duties of the office which are entrusted to them.
- The Moderator shall preside and keep order in the sessions of the Association, appoint committees and perform any other duties required of him as presiding officer. The Clerk and Treasurer shall receive, be responsible for and pay out the funds of the Association as directed by the Association, and shall keep a record and have minutes of the proceedings printed and distributed to the churches.
- The Association shall inquire into the cause, if any church fails to represent in any session of the Association and shall have power to withdraw from any church in the Union which shall violate the rules of this Constitution or deviate from the orthodox principles of the gospel.
- Each session shall be introduced with a sermon by some brother previously appointed and the committee on ministry shall arrange at least one sermon each day that the Association is in session and all business shall be suspended while the sermon is being delivered, but no sermon shall be scheduled for delivery while the Association is in business session.
- When other churches send in letters and delegates they shall be admitted into this Union provided that they harmonize with the doctrine and practices and are willing to accept the Constitution, Rules of Order, and Articles of Faith of this Association.
- The minutes of each session of the Association shall be read, corrected if necessary, approved by the Association and signed by the Moderator and Clerk before the Association adjourns.
- Amendments to this Constitution may be made at any time by the consent of the Association when they believe it expedient.
RULES OF ORDER
- Each session of the Association shall be called to order by the Moderator when present, and in his absence by the assistant Moderator, and in his absence by the oldest member present.
- Each delegate shall immediately take his seat when the house is called to order.
- Every session of the Association shall be opened and closed with prayer.
- No member shall leave the body during the session without permission from the Moderator, nor abruptly break off or absent himself from the Association without liberty granted by the Association, and the behavior of all seated in the Association shall be with due respect to it as a religious body.
- Ten delegates shall constitute a quorum and a smaller number may adjourn to a time and place of their own choosing and they shall give due notice of such future meeting to all churches whose delegates are not present at the time of postponement.
- Only one person shall speak at a time, who shall arise from his seat and address the Moderator, but shall not proceed to speak until he is recognized by the Moderator.
- The person thus speaking must strictly adhere to the subject, and shall not be interrupted by any one save the Moderator, and then only in case he violates the Rules of Order.
- No person shall speak more than twice on one subject except by consent of the body, and no speech shall be of unnecessary length.
- Every motion made and seconded shall be considered by the body, except it be withdrawn by the member who presented it.
- A majority vote of the members present in any session shall decide the question being considered.
- The Moderator shall be entitled to the same privilege of speech as any other member, provided the chair be filled, but he shall vote only when the Association shall be equally divided.
- Any member who shall willfully break any of these rules shall be reproved by the Association as shall be deemed proper, and by a second offense shall forfeit his right to a seat as a member of the Association.
We, the children of God, do solemnly and joyfully enter into a covenant with one another all in love and unity as one body in Christ, having been saved by the power of God and made new creatures in Christ Jesus, we desire to walk in newness of life. We further engage by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love and harmony and strictly follow God’s Word: to be watchful and prayerful and shun the appearance of evil; to strive for the advancement of the cause of Christ; to be faithful in attending church meetings; to give of our means to support our pastor, the expense of the church, the relief of the poor and the spread of the goal; to avoid tattling, backbiting and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drink, from card playing, dancing and all worldly amusements; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements and uptight in all our walks of life; to watch over each other in brotherly love and Christian care and faithfully warn, exhort and admonish each other as occasion may require; to strive to live to the glory of God in all conditions of life even till death; to aid each other in sickness and distress. and pray one for another and fully consecrate our live; to God. And may the God of all peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd and bishop of our souls, through the blood of the everlasting covenant make us perfect in every good word and work to do his will, working in us that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
The minutes of the Christian Unity Baptist Association contains a historical table of their meetings. The following information is for the period 1935-1976:
Elder F. L. Sturgill — 1935-43 — 9 years
Elder D. O. Miller — 1944-58; 1964-71 — 23 years
Brother Walter Graham — 1959-63 — 5 years
Brother Henry Sturgill — 1972-73 — 1 year
Elder Vernon Luttrell — 1973-1975 — 2 years
Elder T. T. Reynolds — 1975-76 –2 years
Elder F. Carl Sturgill — 1935-70 — 36 years
Elder Carl C. Hart — 1970-75 — 5 years
Sister Ethel Hubble — 1975-76 — 2 years
|1||Zion Hill||Eli Graham||1935||152||6|
|2||Sugar Grove||F. L. Sturgill||1936||166||6|
|4||Greenwood||M. S. Hoosier||1938||253||8|
|5||Wolf Knob||D. O. Miller||1939||264||8|
|6||Sugar Tree||Nancy Owens||1940||269||8|
|7||Pleasant Home||J. B. Sexton||1941||286|
|8||Bethel (N.C.)||A. G. Roberts||1942||366|
|9||Zion Hill||D. O. Miller||1943||390||10|
|10||Sugar Grove||M. S. Hoosier||1944||413||10|
|11||Little Piney||C. C. Parsons||1945||421||10|
|12||Wolf Knob||A. G. Roberts||1946||466||10|
|13||Sugar Tree||F. Carl Sturgill||1947||467||10|
|14||Union||A. G. Roberts||1948||466||10|
|15||Pleasant Hill||H. L. Poe||1949||497||11|
|16||Hooks Branch||M. S. Hoosier||1950||566||11|
|17||Pleasant Home||Claude Norris||1951||596||12|
|18||Bethel (N.C.)||Paul Landreth||1952||591||11|
|19||Zion Hill||T. T. Reynolds||1953||622||13|
|20||Big Springs||Bruce Eller||1954||635||11|
|21||Sugar Grove||Ralph Graham||1955||630||11|
|22||Upper Helton||Bruce Eller||1956||661||12|
|23||Wolf Knob||W. W. Blackburn||1957||681||13|
|24||Sugar Tree||E. Rex Hall||1958||620||11|
|26||Hooks Branch||D. O. Miller||1960||601||13|
|27||Pleasant Home||Bruce Eller||1961||661||13|
|28||Bethel (N.C.)||E. Rex Hall||1962||662|
|29||Mouth of Wilson||F. Carl Sturgill||1963||657||13|
|30||Zion Hill||E. Rex Hall||1964||644|
|31||Big Springs||Bruce Eller||1965||623||11|
|32||Wolf Knob||Carl Hart||1966||617||11|
|33||Upper Helton||R. L. Baldwin||1967||654||11|
|34||Sugar Tree||Junior Miller||1968||651||11|
|35||Pleasant Home||Claude Norris||1969||327||5|
|36||Sugar Grove||Carl Hart||1970||345||5|
|37||Hooks Branch||Paul Landreth||1971||167||3|
|38||Zion Hill||Carl Hart||1972||168||3|
|39||Pleasant Home||Paul Landreth||1973||174||3|
|40||Hooks Branch||Carl Hart||1974||176||3|
|41||Zion Hill||Paul Landreth||1975||90||2|
|42||Marion (Hook’s Branch)||Collis Shepherd||1976||91||2|
|43||Zion Hill||Rosco Miller||1977||93||2|
|44||Hooks Branch||Paul Landreth||1978||91||2|
As can be seen from the above table, there was a schism in this association in 1969. The majority of the churches left the association at that time and formed another version of the Christian Unity Baptist Association. This association affiliated itself with the General Association of Separate Baptists in the mid-1970s, and continues its participation in that group to the present time.
The group which has continued with the historical tables and unaltered constitution now only has two churches, Zion Hill in Ashe County, North Carolina and Hook’s Branch in Marion, Smyth County, Virginia. It should be noted that there are considerable family ties between the two congregations.
The Christian Unity Baptist Association began a correspondence with the Separate Baptist Associations and Churches in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana in the 1940s, but this relationship never reached the point of union until this schism occurred.