Primitive Baptist Photo Album – Sister Zopha Pitney

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Elder A. D. Pitney and Sister Zopha Rower Pitney

Sister Zopha Pitney (1891-1952) was the first wife of Elder Admiral Dewey Pitney (1892-1968).  She was a believer, a faithful Christian wife and mother (she raised four sons and one daughter), and a mother in Israel to many.

Among the possessions left by Sister Pitney was the photo album presented here.  It includes individual and group photographs of Primitive Baptist ministers and their wives from around the turn of the 20th century through the 1910’s.  Most of these ministers are from the midwest region, and the photos appear to have been taken from a “Portraits” book similar to Elder Potter’s, Cash’s and Webb’s.

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Pitney Photo Album (Click to Access)

Special thanks to Sister June (Hunt) Pitney and Brother Paul Pitney of McDonough, GA for sharing this album with us.

If anyone is familiar with the source of these photos, or is able to identify any of the unlabeled ministers from the group photos, please comment and share with us.

Otherwise, enjoy this opportunity to connect faces to the men with whose articles, books, and stories you are likely already familiar.

 

 

 

Elders at Unknown Meeting Circa 1910's

Elders at Unknown Meeting Circa 1910’s

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The Order of God’s House – by Elder J. M. Bullard

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Elder J. M. BullardElder J. M. Bullard was born July 10, 1895 and died on May 2, 1979.  He was a minister of the Primitive Baptist Church for more than 50 years.  Elder Bullard was a well educated man, serving as a public school teacher and administrator, Business Administrator of Northeast Mississippi Junior College in Booneville, MS, and finally as a member of the Mississippi State Legislature.

Elder Bullard was a close friend of Elder J. D. Holder for whom he moderated the Holder-Nichols debate in 1950.

Elder Bullard was a frequent contributor to Primitive Baptist periodicals, and authored booklets including:  Ministers in My Day, Ministerial Qualifications, The Atonement, and The Order of God’s House.

If any of our readers has or has access to any of the above, please contact us with information on how we may acquire digital copies of these writings.

The Order of God's HouseIn The Order of God’s House, Elder Bullard presents a concise, yet powerful, call to order in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In our day, there are many calls for unity at the expense of Biblical truth.  Elder Bullard identifies his purpose in writing in the Preface when he states:

“I trust that my only motive is to seek out the ordered path that the Church should travel in, and to sight some errors of its procedures. The Church of Jesus Christ has the greatest mission of any other organization on earth.

Christ gave her the orders, the laws, the commands, to carry out that mission.

The mission of the Church was not to populate heaven; not to prepare the alien hearts of men for the glory world; not to bring about a spiritual birth; but its mission was, and is, to prepare the Lord’s people for service in the kingdom here in the world.

It is to do this in perfect harmony with the teachings of God’s inspired Word that orders her in the way of righteousness.

When she observes the laws of her Master, she is a bright and shining light.  There is no light in the world today like this glorious light.  But if that light which is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Hence, the need to study the order of God’s house that we may walk as children of the light.” 

Regardless of where lines of fellowship, communion, and association are drawn, it is clear that there must be such lines.  Elder Bullard reminds us that it is the Word of God which is our standard and only rule of faith and practice.  It is the responsibility of every believer to ensure that they are laboring to contend for the faith, and to ensure that God’s house, the Church of God is kept in good and working order.

Elder Lemuel Potter’s Souvenir of Ministers of the Primitive Baptist Church, 1895

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Souvenir of Ministers of the Primitive Baptist Church by Elder Lemuel Potter, 1895

Elder Lemuel Potter (1841-1897) of Indiana was a well known and universally well
regarded minister of the Primitive Baptist Churches who died at the early age of 56.  In only 30 years of active ministry, he became a household name among the Primitive Baptists through his preaching, writing, publishing, and a number of debates with champions of the Churches of Christ, Missionary Baptist and other orders.

Elder Potter is perhaps most well known for his debate with Dr. W. P. Throgmorton in July, 1887 on the question, “Who are the Primitive Baptists?”  Additionally, Elder Potter wrote a number of articles for the various periodicals in popular circulation, and was a frequent correspondent of Elder S. F. Cayce, Elder J. H. Oliphant and others of mid-Western connection.  As a publisher, Elder Potter produced 25 volumes (years) of a semi-monthly periodical entitled The Church Advocate (if any readers may have access to any copies of this paper, we would value the contribution to our holdings).  Regular contributors of the periodical included Elder I. N. Vanmeter, J. H. Oliphant, G. M. Thompson, etc.

Without the benefit of social media, digital communications, and the other technology with which we are accustomed, Primitive Baptists of the 19th century often read articles and materials by men whose faces they never say and whom they were able to learn little about.  By the last decade of the 1800’s, there were a number of attempts to provide a personal and photographic introduction of some of the more prominent ministers of our order.  Among the most widely circulated of these were: Portraits of Primitive Baptist Ministers edited and compiled by Elder Walter Cash, 1896; and the subject of this post, Souvenirs of Ministers of the Primitive Baptist Church edited by Elder Lemuel Potter, 1895.

Primitive Baptist Heritage

To many, history is just a collection of dates and actions from the past which are best left in the past where they belong.  It is supposed that what was said and done more than a generation ago, much less a century or two ago, has nothing to do with our life, character, or actions today.

The old proverbs, “If you don’t know where you come from, you can’t know where you are going.” and “Those who do not learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.”  have been marginalized and forgotten by many in our generation.  The fact is, that from the dawn of time, we have been deeply influenced and effected by the words and deeds of those who lived and died long before we were born.

God, in His Word, clearly emphasizes the importance of history, heritage, and legacy in both positive and negative ways.  “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” – Ps 16:6; “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.” – Ps 61:6; “I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: fro the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” – Is 58:14; “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” – Ex 3:15.

As Christians, we claim the heritage of the Lord’s people as revealed in His Word and are established upon His promises.  Our faith is built upon His revealed Word (the Bible), and our experience of His active work in our lives daily confirms and reinforces our belief.  We also are blessed to look back upon the pages of history through the lens of our faith which informs us of God’s hand in the events of history including social, political, economic, and religious aspects.  We stand upon the shoulders of believers who have lived and died in faith, and their words and work continue to speak to our experiences providing encouragement,  perspective, and realization of the lasting significance of our own words and actions.

As is said of righteous Abel, “…he being dead yet speaketh.” – Heb 11:4

Having been blessed with the heritage of the Primitive Baptist church, and as an active member of Primitive Baptist congregations for more than 30 years, I have learned to appreciate and value the blessings of that heritage and the men and women whose writings, ministries, and actions helped to establish, define, and maintain our churches from the early days of this nation until the present.  In years past, many have attempted to utilize the new mediums of the internet and social media to present these historical, theological, and cultural resources to varying degrees of success.

The past two decades have seen a renewed interest in history and a number of outstanding biographies have been written about important figures in American and World History.  Technological advances have increase the availability and accessibility of materials  to the interested researchers, and the results have been outstanding.

It is our hope that through the use of this website, we will be able to compile and provide access to a research library of resources in their original format for the use of students, pastors, writers, and any of a variety of individuals who will benefit from the materials collected here.  We would be delighted to see quality biographies and histories written to document the lives and ministries of our brethren, and to present a well documented view of the heritage that God has given us within the Primitive Baptist churches.

If you have access to any writings or materials by Primitive Baptist authors from the past 250 years that you would be willing to see added to this effort, please contact us to arrange for the digitization and archiving of those resources.