The original Liberty Church met in a small frame structure located about ½ mile up what was then called Forbes Hollow in the Old Forbes Schoolhouse building. The church was organized in 1912 with 14 members, mostly from Moore’s Chapel Freewill Baptist Church, which was one of the first Freewill Baptist churches built in Carter County. Some of the known charter members were John & Venia Peters, Nancy Harrell, John & Hettie Hardin, and T.N. & Martha Peters.
Alfred Benefield was the pastor at Moore’s Chapel and was the organizer,
assisted by A.B. Adams and others.
Benefield was then given the right to name the church and he named it
Liberty Church and from that time forward, the hollow has been called Liberty
Rev. Benefield was elected the first pastor and he served more than 3 years and built a greater organization. The Rev. H. Howington (father of J.C. Howington), Rev. James Arnett, Rev. Brownlow Vance, Rev. Moore Howell, Rev. Tommy Richardson and others were pastors of the early Liberty Church.
In 1933, the building burned to the ground and the congregation had to find another place to meet.
After meeting for a while in the Lane Hill School Building on up the hollow, the congregation decided to build 2 churches: One on the road joining the 2 hollows (Union Hill Freewill Baptist Church) and one at the lower part of the hollow and it was called New Liberty Freewill Baptist Church.
The site for the new church was donated by T.N. Peters in honor of his family and a new ‘rock’ church was constructed in 1934. It is said that a group of men (probably Jim Cable and his brothers) came from Butler and with some men from Stoney Creek, built the church from river rock. It has also been said that the whole community pitched in to gather the thousands of rock that were needed for the building. They obtained the rocks from the surrounding creeks and fields. The rocks were hauled to the site by horse drawn sleds and wagons.
Hardin, one of the charter members of the church had the honor of laying the
first stone. He served as deacon and a
janitor at the church for several years.
The first pastor at the New Liberty Church was Alfred Benefield, who served more than 3 years.
Some of the officials of the church in the early years were: Deacons. W.M. Colbaugh, Gilbert Peters, John Peters, James Baker, Dan Peters, Earl Lowe, & Blaine Campbell. Church Clerks, Emma Peters and Magdeline Colbaugh.
Up to 1949, some of the pastors were: Moore Howell, J.C. Howington, C.Y. Elkins, William Cleary, Johnnie Harris, Mack Hodge, Ray Burchfield, and E.F. Drayne. In 1949, Pastor E.F. Drayne reported a membership of 85 active members and an average attendance of 115 in Sunday School.
The Pastors after 1949 were Edgar Coleman (1955), John Thompson (1956), Floyd Phillips (1963), Clarence Phillips (1964), David Patterson (1966), Terry Hopson (1967), Herman Clark (1970), Bill Greer (1972 – 1984), Ray Colbaugh (1985-1986), Richard Odom (1986), and Ray Colbaugh (1986 – present).
On a financial report dated November 21, 1936, it stated that the church owed $24.01 on the furnace, $280 to Builders Supply, and $300 on the parsonage. The amount in the treasury was $98.12.
On another report dated April 3, 1937, the balance in the treasury was 97 cents. Then on July 1, 1937, it was reported that the balance owed on the church was $79.82. A report at the end of 1940 stated that the pastor was paid $366.33 for the entire year.
In a report dated June 4, 1938, the church voted that if a member of the church did not report in person to the church during the year, they would be dropped from the roll. The only exception was an illness that prevented the member from attending.
At the original Liberty Church, there were 3 singing schools taught by John Boyd, which resulted in building one of the best singing choirs of Carter County. The New Liberty Church has always been known for its outstanding choirs. John W. Peters led the early choir and taught singing schools. He taught some of the men who later would be known as the Hardin Brothers. The Hardin Brothers Quartet sang harmony gospel music and traveled all over the area singing. Wes Hardin, the lead singer for the group, later became choir leader. He held many singing schools – at his home church and at numerous other churches. He traveled many times for up to an hour to get to a church that wanted him to hold a singing school. The present choir leader, Eddie Shoun, was taught by Wes Hardin and assisted him in many singing schools.
The church held a 5th Saturday Night singing, coordinated and hosted by Wes Hardin and the Hardin Brothers Quartet. Many local and distant groups were featured throughout the years, some traveling several hours to participate from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Well known groups of today, such as the McKameys and the Primitive Quartet participated. Some local groups that came were the Good News Quartet, the Heavenly Way Trio, & the Gospel Way Quartet. The church would be so full at times; people would be standing outside the building, listening through the windows. The Spirit filled singings were known to last for hours, many times past 10 or 11 pm. and later, and even extending out into the parking lot as the spirit of the Lord moved.
Today, the church has an Adult Choir, Revival Choir, Junior Choir, and Children’s Choir. We have the New Liberty Quartet, the Solid Rock Trio, and others that occasionally sing solos. All of these sing for different services and they sing for the glory of God and to praise His name.
From what we know since the earlier days of the church, the ladies of the church have played an important part in the growth of the church and building the church.
In the early church, the Ladies Auxiliary would meet in households of different members each month for their meetings. They would have prayer, bible study, and discuss ways to raise money for things that the church or community needed. This was good fellowship and considered a social event at the time.
The ladies quilted quilts for people or for sale; they had bake sales, ice cream suppers – making homemade ice cream and having cake walks. In the later years, they held yard sales; prepared fund raising dinners; sold donuts, candles, brooms, cookbooks, greeting cards, etc. Even today, even though the Ladies Aid does not meet actively, we still have dish rags and different kinds of flavoring for sale, with the proceeds going to the Cancer Relay for Life.
We understand that one of the first things that the Ladies Aid bought was padded cushions for the church pews. We also know that they bought the first window air conditioners for the church and also purchased the first church van. After the church was remodeled in 1978, the Ladies Aid bought curtains for the baptistery and decorated all the new classrooms. Then when the fellowship center was built in 1987, they purchased lots of cooking equipment, dishes, cookware, an ice machine, and many other things needed for the different occasions held there.
All of these women worked very hard – donating their time, their food, and other kinds of things to
various fund raising events. This was for one purpose only and that was to further the growth of God’s church. They loved their God and their church family! We hope that the earlier women know that their work was not in vain. God has blessed this church and all the women have had a part in keeping His church strong and working toward spreading the Gospel of Christ.
The youth of the church have also played an important role in the growth of New Liberty. We know that even in the 50’s and 60’s, the youth worked hard in the church. We learned that in the 60’s, the Youth Group raised enough money to purchase the first church organ. They had bake sales, made pillows to sell, even made decorated bird houses out of clothes hangers to sell. They made enough money to make a sizeable down payment on the organ and then make payments until it was paid for.
The youth group of the later years is no different. They sponsored carwashes, bake sales, dinners and sold things such as donuts, candy, and popcorn. They bought the carpet for one of their classrooms in the 80’s. Our youth of today is very active. They have bought T-shirts for the congregation, raised money for trips for the church, and sponsored outings for the seniors of the church.
Our youth are very vital to the continuing growth of our church. As Rev. Ray says, they are not our church of tomorrow - they are our church of today. Amen!
In 1976 a new parsonage was constructed beside the church. Then in 1978, 5 new classrooms and a baptistery were added to the main part of the church. A church Fellowship Center was built in 1987 on the other side of the church which seated around 120 people. An addition was added to the Fellowship Center in 2003, almost doubling it in size, enlarging the kitchen and containing seating for around 200 people. An area of land across the road from the church came available in 2006, and was purchased by the church and paved to create a parking lot. As the church grew, we needed more classrooms. In 2008, the parsonage was moved and connected to the main part of the church. It provided 2 large classrooms and larger bathrooms.
“All members present were in full fellowship with each other and with their Lord.” These words were written by Elma Peters in the minutes of a business meeting on June 5, 1939. After all these years, our church is still in fellowship with each other and our Lord. It is the people who established New Liberty and the others throughout the years that dedicated their prayers, efforts, and love, that have set the foundation for us now and the future generations. It is all about love and sharing and letting the love of God show in our lives.
Sunday School Officers and Teachers listed in a Watauga Spinnerett from 1949
Pastor - E.F. Drayne
Deacons - John W. Peters, Conley Peters, Guy Hardin, Gilbert Peters
Superintendant - Conley Peters
Senior Men’s Class - John W. Peters
Senior Ladies Class - Venia Peters
Intermediate Class - Florence Reccer
Junior Class - Chalmers White
Primary Class - Carrie Lewis
Song Leader - John W. Peters
Pianist - Darlene Clark
Ladies Auxiliary - Carrie Lewis
Choir Leader - Lena Taylor