Rev. Dr. Love's Administration.
The church was very much divided in heart and sentiment when Rev. E. K. Love took charge. He soon found that the bad feeling and distrust occasioned by the split of 1877 had not entirely disappeared. He set to work very wisely to unite the hearts of his people. The friends of Rev. W. J. Campbell had been long struggling to erect a monument to his memory. They had no help, and hence the work lagged. Rev. Dr. Love took hold of it heartily and the church united with him, and very soon a very handsome monument was erected to the memory of this faithful servant of God. This monument was unveiled January 1st, 1886. Revs. J. M. Simms, E. K. Love, Deacon J. H. Brown and others made very appropriate addresses. This convinced the followers of Rev. Campbell that they had a friend in Rev. E. K. Love, and that they need have no fears that Mr. Love would not have respect for the labors of their sainted father and do full justice to his memory. This step led rapidly to the healing of the breach and closing the vacuum between the two heretofore contending parties, and Mr. Love became the favorite of both parties, and union very soon followed, to the well-being of the church. The increase in the collections and the large congregations showed that there were better feelings in the church--the collections scarcely ever falling below $400 a month. The church was never more prosperous than under the leadership of Mr. Love.
In the spring of 1886 the church had a glorious revival, and the first Sunday in May, 1886, Rev. Mr. Love baptized 110 hopeful converts. The time consumed in baptizing these was only 23 minutes. The first Sunday in June, 1886, he baptized 70 hopeful converts in 13 minutes, and the first Sunday in July 25 in 8 minutes; on other occasions less. In these meetings the members took an active part. The sisters had prayer meetings daily at 4 P. M. under leadership of Mrs. M. C. Johnson, one of the best women in the world. On the first Sunday in October, 1886, Mr. Love baptized 155 persons in 33 minutes; on the first Sunday in November, 1886, he baptized 89 in 23 minutes, and on the first Sunday in December, 1886, he baptized 39 persons. Up to this time he has baptized more than 1200 persons. The church is very much devoted to him and so is he to the church.
Often the church was crowded to its utmost capacity and still many went off who could not gain admittance in the church at all. There were often as many that could not get into the church as could get into the building. The Savannah Morning News substantially said of this church during one of its revivals: "The church is filled every night to its utmost capacity; all around the iron railing is crowded by anxious listeners and the square in front of the church is crowded with persons anxious to hear the eloquent preacher through the windows. The church was worked up to an interest in the salvation of souls seldom witnessed by any church."
It was now evident that the administration of Mr. Love would be a success and that the church had not made a mistake in its choice of him as pastor. Winning the confidence of the better class of people, the church increased beyond the most sanguine expectation of Mr. Love's most ardent admirers. Room could not be obtained in the church after the hour for regular services to begin. This necessitated the enlargement of the building. In order to do this it was necessary to buy the property in rear of the church. This was quite an undertaking, but the church was competent to the task.
At the July Conference in 1886 Mr. John E. Grant, a prominent member of the church, made a nice speech and motioned to buy the property in rear of the church. This was carried. A purchasing committee was appointed with plenary power, consisting of Deacons J. H. Brown, chairman; C. L. DeLamotta, Alexander Rannair, March Haines, F. J. Wright, and Mr. R. P. Young. The property was bought for five thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven dollars and forty-five cents ($5,867.45). This was engaged in August, 1886, and the last dollar paid on the 6th of April, 1887. Every note was met without any delay whatever.
The property having been purchased the church was advised by the ironed-will pastor to commence work. The wisdom of this was doubted by the officers except Deacons F. J. Wright and E. C. Johnson. Deacon Wright contended publicly and privately that the work could be done. He was a great comfort to the pastor. Urging him not to be discouraged that the work could be done and that the people would raise the money and that he would find no trouble in accomplishing the work. The third Sunday in October, 1887, the first collection was taken for the building, and every third Sunday thereafter until the third Sunday in April, 1888.
The church passed a resolution on the third Sunday in February, 1888, that work should commence the latter part of February, 1888. The building committee consisted of Brethren A. M. Monroe, chairman; C. H. Ebbs, Richard Butler, Richard Maynor, David Jackson, John Byrd and Sandy Rhett. This was an earnest, competent and whole-souled committee. Deacon J. H. Hooker was chosen foreman of the brick work, Deacon F. J. Wright foreman of the wood work, and Deacon F. M. Williams to do the painting. The work commenced on the 21st of February, 1888. Deacon J. H. Hooker laid the first brick. The extension is 28 feet 6 inches long and consists of a bay window for the pulpit, a pool and an arch gallery, forming into an o. g. before it reaches the walls of the west end of the church, in which is the pulpit. The pulpit has two doors and two handsome windows of stained glass and arched, with the photographs of Revs. Bryan, Marshall, Campbell and Gibbons. A flight of stairs leads from both sides of the pool in the pulpit to rooms in the basement, and also a flight from each door of the pulpit outside for the pastor. There are dressing rooms where persons descend for the purpose of dressing after baptism--one for ladies and the other for gentlemen. There is a third room in the basement for the use of the pastor. All of these rooms will be used for Sunday school class rooms also. The third room is under the pulpit formed by the bay window and will be for the pastor's dressing-room. This arrangement adds much convenience and comfort to the church. The discipline meetings of the officers are held in these rooms, and also other committee meetings of the church.
The cost of the extension was $12,000, making the valuation of the church not less than $75,000. Adding to this $5,000 of societies' prayer houses, will make $80,000.
The members were divided into clubs for the purpose of raising money, both for the church extension and the centennial celebration. The following is a list of clubs and the amount each gave for the church extension.
Rev. George Liele Club--Deacon J. H. Brown, President; Mrs. Nancy Gibbons, Vice-President; Miss L. L. Carey, Treasurer; A. M. Monroe, Secretary. These were from the Sunday School. They gave for church extension $7.00.
Rev. Andrew C. Marshall Club--Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., President; Mr. Freeman Trotty, Vice-President; A. G. Brown, Secretary; Mrs. Susie O. Graham, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $819.46.
Rev. W. J. Campbell Club--Deacon F. J. Wright, President; Deacon E. C. Johnson, Vice-President; Mr. John H. Davis, Secretary; Mrs. Mary A. Wyly, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $750.88.
Motto Club--Rev. W. G. Clark, President; A. M. Williams, Vice-President; Deacon J. H. Brown, Secretary; Deacon March Haines, Chaplain; Mrs. L. A. Beatty, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $430.55.
Rev. George Gibbons Club, No. 1--Mrs. D. W. Gibbons, President; Mrs. Phyllis Jenkins, Vice-President; Mr. D. W. Gibbons, Secretary; Mrs. Mary Brown, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $49.95.
Rev. George Gibbons Club, No. 2--Deacon John C. Habersham, President; David Blake, Vice-President; Mr. W. B. Jenkins, Secretary; Mrs. Leah Garvin, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $464.89.
The Rev. E. K. Love Club--Deacon R. H. Johnson, President; Richard Law, Vice-President; James Brown, Secretary; Mrs. Hannah Glen, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $155.92.
The Harmony Club--Deacon Alexander Rannair, President; May Hunter, Vice-President; James Small, Secretary; Mrs. Lydia Small, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $92.55.
Ruel Club--Miss S. C. Jenkins, President; Mrs. J. C. Wade, Vice-President; Mr. R. B. Heggs, Secretary; Mrs. J. C. Love, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $98.76.
The M. C. Johnson Club--Mr. M. S. Anderson, President; William Boyd, Vice-President; Mrs. Sarah Burke, Secretary; Mrs. M. C. Johnson, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $65.65.
The M. L. Jackson Club--Mr. Henry Minis, President; Mrs. E. F. Brown, Vice-President; Benjamin R. Young, Clerk; Mrs. Sarah Butler, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $62.10.
The Mount Zion Club--Deacon F. M. Williams, President; Deacon P. A. Glenn, Vice-President; Mr. Richard Jenkins, Clerk; Mrs. S. R. Williams, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $263.20.
The C. L. DeLamotta Organ Club--Mrs. Matilda M. Monroe, President; Miss Lula Hines, Secretary; Miss L. L. Carey, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $36.65.
The Daughters of Zion Society--Deacon J. C. Habersham, President; L. J. Pettigrew, Vice-President; C. H. Ebbs, Clerk; Mrs. S. R. Williams, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $62.00.
The Young Men's Christian Association--B. C. Creamer, President; L. A. Washington, Clerk; Henry Emory, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $65.00.
The Mungin Centennial Club--Dittsmersville. They gave for church extension $27.00.
The Glassco Jackson Centennial Club, Southville--W. G. Clark, President. They gave for church extension $3.00.
The Ladies' Laurel Branch Society--D. Mitchell, President; L. J. Pettigrew, Secretary. They gave for church extension $15.00.
Ladies' Zion Watchman Society--Mrs. Claranda Jenkins, President; Mrs. Amanda Pettigrew, Vice-President; Mrs. Amelia Bing, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $10.00.
Zion Watchman Society--L. J. Pettigrew, President; J. H. Coffee, Secretary. They gave for church extension $5.00.
The Baptist Christian Circle Association Society--Mr. Chas. Green, President; Mrs. Betsy Williams, Vice-President; Mr. Albert P. Williams, Secretary; Mrs. Ella Mulligan, Treasurer. They gave for church extension $20.00.
The Ladies' Union League Society--Mr. William Logan, President; Mr. E. Collins, Vice-President; Mrs. Rachel Logan, Treasurer; --, Secretary. They gave for church extension $15.00.
The Sons of Zion Society--Deacon F. M. Williams, President; Deacon J. C. Habersham, Vice-President; Deacon J. H. Hooker, Treasurer; Deacon A. Rannair, Secretary. They gave for church extension $20.00.
The Lone Star Cadet Branch Society--Mr. Abram Bowens, President; Mr. H. F. Griffin, Vice-President; Mrs. Bina Lewis, Treasurer; L. A. Washington, Secretary. They gave for church extension, $10.00.
The United Tie of Brotherhood--Mr. S. Bowman, President; Mr. James A. Williams, Vice-President; Mr. George Bacon, Treasurer: Mr. James P. Green, Secretary. They gave the church $16.00.
Capernaum Society--Mrs. Anna Gibbons, President; Mrs. Phiby Butler, Vice-President; D. W. Gibbons, Secretary; Mrs. Mary Brown, Treasurer. They gave the church $20.00.
The Ladies' Union of St. Paul Society.--Mrs. D. Grant, President; Mrs. Amelia Bing, Vice-President; Mr. Peter Denigal, Secretary; Mrs. Rebecca Richards, Treasurer. They gave the church $35.00.
Sons and Daughters of Abraham Society gave the church $5.00.
The Lilie Union Society--Mrs. R. Quarterman, President; S. A. Nichols, Vice-President; B. R. Young, Secretary; Mrs. Caroline Low, Treasurer. They gave the church $5.00.
The S. C. Mutual Aid Society--Mrs. M. A. Wylly, President; Mrs. Julia Winston, Vice-President; Mrs. Charles Lewis, Secretary; Mrs. Charlotte Fields, Treasurer. They gave the church $20.00.
Building Club No. 1--Mrs. Sophia Verdier, President; A. M. Williams, Secretary. They gave the church $47.00.
The Benevolent Association gave the church $2.00.
The Benevolent Aiding Association--M. E. Nichols, President; B. R. Young, Vice-President; J. A. Nichols, Secretary; S. Bizzars, Treasurer. They gave the church $2.50.
The Mechanics' Branch gave the church $5.00.
The St. James Macedonia Society gave the church $5.00.
Savannah Light Infantry Branch gave the church $2.50.
The Ladies' Brick Layer Society--John Jackson, President; Maria Loyd, Vice-President; Samuel Loyd, Secretary; Lydia A. Jackson, Treasurer. They gave the church $1.50.
The Ladies' and Gentlemen's Social Society--Mrs. Annie Jackson, President; Rebecca Brox, Vice-President; Mr. Robert H. Lewis, Secretary; Mrs. Hester Haynes, Treasurer. They gave the church $10.00.
Brampton Club--Bro. Wm. Moore, President. They gave for church extension $21.95.
The Children's Israelite Society--Mr. March Houston, President; Mrs. Annie Burk, Vice-President; Mr. A. G. Brown, Secretary; Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., Treasurer. They gave the church $10.00.
The Young Ladies' Select Branch of the Israelite Society--Mr. March Houston, President; Mrs. Mira Miller, Vice-President; Miss Lou Hines, Secretary; Mrs. Mamie Hines, Treasurer. They gave the church $2.50.
East Savannah, Thunderbolt and Zion Hill Societies gave their moneys through the Mount Zion Club, already referred to. Southville and Dittsmersville gave their moneys through the George Gibbons Club, No. 2, already mentioned. Each and every club vied with the other as to which would do most for the church.
This wise division of the church into clubs so inspired the members and united their hearts and efforts in the work that they did the work with an ease surprising to themselves and to the whole community. This generalship will class Rev. Mr. Love with the ablest pastors of the country. Mr. Love contended that the church was able to do her work without begging a dime out of the city, and that he did not mean to beg out of Savannah, nor to beg a single church in the city. He kept his word and the work was done and paid for without a day's delay in the hands getting their money or the work suspended. When the work was completed the church owed but a trifle. The pleasure of the members at the leadership of Mr. Love was indescribable. During Mr. Love's labors to enlarge and beautify the church, his amiable Christian wife rendered him incalculable service. She was an earnest, faithful, able, loving and punctual Sunday school teacher. Whoever else might be absent, Mrs. Love was sure to be present. She was a conspicuous member of the Ruel club, and was its treasurer. She entered heartily into her husband's work, sharing heroically his sorrows and his joys. She was humble, loving, faithful and obedient as a wife, and it is doubtful that a minister ever had a better wife. She was converted in April, 1879, in Thomasville, Ga., and was baptized by Rev. E. K. Love the first Sunday in May, 1879, and on the 28th of October, of the same year, they were married. She is a devoted Christian, mother and wife.
Mr. Love inaugurated a children's day, on which he preached to the children at 11 A. M. He had young boys for deacons who were members of the church, and boys and girls in the choir, most of whom were members of the church. Little Etta Monroe, the daughter of Mrs. M. M. Monroe, was organist, and little Mary C. Johnson, Jr., was leading soprano singer. Her voice was remarkably sweet. This soon became the most interesting service of the church, and perhaps did more good than any other service of the church. The elder people were asked on this day to go up in the galleries and the children occupied the main audience room. In this way Rev. Dr. Love endeavored to impress the parents that they would ere long be in heaven and looking upon their children filling the places which once they occupied while on earth, and to impress the children that their parents would soon be gone and that they would have to take the place of their parents and carry on the work of the Lord, but that their parents would be watching them from the balconies of heaven.
Too much can not be said in praise of Mrs. M. C. Johnson for organizing many of the young boys and girls into a society, known as "The Young Christian Workers." This society did a noble work for the church, and acquired thereby the habit of giving and making for the Lord. Mrs. Johnson was in full sympathy with Rev. Dr. Love, and did as much, if not more, to help him in his work as any other member of the church. She said but little, but she worked much and brought forth much fruit.
The church under Rev. Dr. Love's administration did more mission and educational work than ever before in its history. In 1886 the church sent up to the convention that met at Quitman $404, and in 1887 to the convention at Brunswick $342. In 1886 it sent up to the Mount Olive Baptist Association $91.96, and in 1887 $64. This was $901.96 in two years. Adding to this incidental missionary collections and what was given to churches for building and liquidating debts and to traveling preachers will go far towards swelling the amount to $2,000. Besides this, the church provides for many of her poor saints and buries them. And still, besides this, her current expenses are more than $200 per month. This church has not a superior in liberality in existence. This church prides itself in taking care of its pastor. Whatever he wants, he has only to hint it. Its financial record can not be excelled. It usually pays all of its debts monthly without any strain.
The congregation is orderly during service, and it is the rarest thing imaginable for the preacher to have to call for order. This is due to the early training of the fathers. The church building is kept neat. The sexton, Mr. James Richards, is as attentive to the church as a loving wife to a sick husband.
The administration of Rev. Love has been mainly characterized by peace and good feeling. The Gibbons people, about 100 in number, who went off during the trouble of 1877, and who were organized into a church about seven miles from Savannah by Rev. U. L. Houston, without letters and at the emphatic protest of the First African Baptist Church, returned under the administration of Rev. Dr. Love. The so-called church was dissolved, and the brethren returned to the church again. It was a day of rejoicing. Many others that had not returned with the body on the 17th of February, 1884, returned under the administration of Rev. Dr. Love, amounting to several hundred. This showed Rev. Dr. Love's ability to win the hearts of men. The members were never more attentive.
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