Camp Ground Baptist marks 120 years of spreading the good Word

August 14, 2019

Alto’s Camp Ground Baptist Church is celebrating its 120th anniversary, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 24 and 25, at the church, located seven miles west of Alto on Highway 294.

All are invited to help the church mark more than a century of fellowship. Attractions featured during the celebration include music, testimonies, homemade ice cream, at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24; and on Sunday, Aug. 25, a continental breakfast at 9 a.m., Gospel concert by the Southern Plainsmen Gospel quartet and the message, starting at 10 a.m.; unveiling of the church’s official historical marker by the Cherokee County Historical Commission at noon; and an old-fashioned barbecue luncheon, prepared by the men of the church at 12:30 p.m.

According to Pastor James Goforth, Sr., the original location of the church was in a camp ground on Boxes Creek, which is two and a half miles west of the present location of the church.

“We have the great-great-great descendents of some of the original families that attended our church, still attending to day,” Goforth said. “That’s pretty amazing.”

In 1897, N.J. Hendrick and E.T. Butler led a small group of people that began to have a Bible study at the camp ground at Boxes Creek. On Aug. 27, 1899, a group of eight adults plus children, organized what is now the Camp Ground Baptist Church. They called Brother W.W. Albritton from Rusk as their pastor.

Among the pastors who served the church were Brother Gene Tomlin, who had a very significant ministry in the church. Since 1992, the church has had two pastors, Brother Curtis Oliver and Brother Goforth.

Church officials have worked closely with the Cherokee County Historical Commission on the church’s historical marker.

“Part of the building we’re meeting in today is the original building that was built in 1925,” Goforth said. “It’s been remodeled some, and added on to, but the sanctuary is still the same.”

According to information that will be included on the church’s historical marker, “In 1906, while the Rev. J.W. Rhodes was pastor, the church moved from Boxes Creek to the George Butler land. In 1908, the church was relocated across the road from Jones Chapel School.

“In 1922, the church was moved east, down the hill from Jones Chapel School and was located near the Dixon home and the Hendrick store. An arbor type structure was built on this location. In 1925, the arbor structure was torn down and all the men of the community pitched in to build a one-room church structure.

“The church worshipped in that location until 1945 when plans were made to build a highway with a direct route from Elkhart to Alto. Those plans took the new highway right through the church location.

The Dixon family gave the church a plot of land beside the new highway. In 1945, the church building was moved to its present location.”