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Our Heritage

"...this sacred temple which had been a lighthouse to so many who wanted to walk in the light..."

-Rev. John H. Baker


The church was named for the William Carroll Family who were early settlers in the area. It was instituted in 1797, making it the oldest church in Franklin County. Among the first members and families identified with the church were: Osbornes, McWhorters, Starrs, Stones, Browns, Burtons, Sewells, Jacksons, Hemphills, Deans, Buffingtons, Cheeks, Mabreys, Turmans, Stricklands, Carsons, Hayes, Greenes, Millers, and many others.


Here Bishop Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Bishop in America, preached here on November 21, 1799. He wrote the following in his diary about this occasion: “Here on Friday November 21, 1799, we drove 16 miles to Carroll's Meeting House, a new log cabin in the woods. Some of the congregation are from the East and West parts of Maryland. I felt the Lord was with them. We have the kitchen house and chamber all in one and no closet but the woods.”


The current church was built in 1833, with handmade pews being placed in the sanctuary. It was in these years Rev. Nelson Osborne served as pastor. He has the longest know record of service at Carroll's. In his years of ministry he preached 470 funerals and married 540 couples. Larkin Sewell, who would go on to serve as a local preacher for the Methodist church, was converted here during this time. 


The early minutes are unavailable but in 1884 the Quarterly Conference gives the roll of the official members as follows: A.J. Stone, J.M. Bagwell, J.B.D. McWhorter, J.R.P. Sewell, J.M. Jackson, Rev. H.P. Osborn, J.D. Phillips, N.E. McWhorter, Lewis Starr, and J.S. Starr. The assessment for the year was $100.00. Rev. W.T. Norman was the pastor at this time.


In 1885, Rev. A.D. Echols was pastor. The stewards were S.J. Stone and Sam Swilling. Parker Sewell was Sunday School Superintendent and J.W. Ayers Secretary. At the close of the Conference year the pastor submitted the following report on the spiritual state of the church. He stated he had received into the church during the quarter by profession of faith, William King Bagwell, Margaret Brewer, W.M. Patrick, Bunyan Phillips, Alice Norris, Amanda HENDRICKS, Oliver Busby, Caleb T. Crawford, Willie Holland, W.M. Galloway, Julia Cornog, Jas R.P. Moss, Mattie Louise Moss, Lucy Emaline Moss, (By Baptism), Emma Lessie Burton, Jefferson Dean, Henry Bedenbaugh, John Parks Starr, Lettie Rose Phillips, Renda Ridgeway, Thomas Jefferson Starr, Lula Eaton, Amanda C. Phillips, Martha Louise Busby, C.C. Carson, (By Certificate) W.G. Lester, S.E. Lester, Sarah Crawford, J.B. Jordan, Sarah Jordan, Jas B. Winter, M.A. Winter, Frances J. Winter, C.C. Winter, M.M. Winter, J.C. Neece.


Membership began to decline around the turn of the century as communities in the area began to grow, requiring their own churches. Fairview Methodist was organized in 1895, Canon Methodist in 1905, and Gaines Chapel Methodist in 1906. Many moved their membership to one of these new churches.

By 1932, activity had ceased at Carroll's. The building was described as "deserted and neglected." In that same year, Rev. John H. Baker was asked to come revive the church. One of his first efforts was to straighten the church building, which had begun to lean towards the graveyard. He, along with a few loyal supporters, were able to get a solid Sunday school and church organization going. Rev. Baker moved in 1941 and therefore was forced to give up the work at Carroll's.

After his departure, the church was put on the Lavonia charge. Not long after, it had been downgraded to a mission charge. During these years, Eva Crenshaw, who would become a deaconess in the United Methodist Church, continued to hold Sunday School here. Eventually the church was abandoned once again.


Rev. Baker learned of this and asked permission to again revive Carroll's. The church building was restored in 1951- 1952 under the leadership of Rev. Baker and by the people of the community and others who assisted generously. This restoration was done in Memory of Rev. Nelson Osborn. Mr. C.A. Bryant and Mr. Paul Bryant, grandsons of Rev. Osborn, were on the finance committee in the restoration. Writing about the restoration efforts, Rev. Baker said, "In all my fifty years of church work I have never seen a more co-operative band of people than the ones working here."


The church met sporadically after Rev. Baker's departure. During this time a Methodist Pastor from South Carolina, Rev. Claude J. Goodson, would come down and lead services at Carroll's. It is not known when he moved on. Over these years, the church was occasionally used by different Pentecostal groups.


In the 1980’s people from the Canon circuit felt a burden to begin worship again at the church that had met so much to their community. The churches making up the Circuit at that time were Canon UMC, Gaines Chapel UMC, Bowersville UMC, and Pennington Chapel UMC. On February 23rd, 1985, the Church trustees were established. These were: Dan Whiten, L.D. Prickett, Ron Miller, Bill Cochran, and Charles W. Bryant. The pastor of the Circuit, Rev. Terry DeLand, took on Carroll’s as a preaching station, not an official church. The church began to worship on 2nd Sundays at 3pm and on 5th Sundays at 11am. During this time the church was renovated once again.


Rev. DeLand served until 1986. He was followed by Rev. John B.F. Smith (1986-1994) and Rev. Hubert Story (1994-1995).


In 1995 the trustees decided to find pastors on their own. Rev. Jack Lamb, a retired United Methodist minister served from 1995-2010. He was followed by another United Methodist Pastor, Don Nestor (2010-2012), and then by a Pentecostal Pastor, Keith Hearn (2012-2014).


By 2014, the church was only worshipping on 5th Sundays. In the same year, the remaining trustees made the move to join the Association of Independent Methodists and were accepted in. On July 31st, 2016, Rev. Bennett Clough, a pastor from the Association, was called to be pastor at Carroll’s.


Though the church remains small, it has begun to have services every Sunday. There is great hope for the work God will do here. This old church has paved the way to spread the Gospel over our beloved County and State. Let us ever keep alive the memory of those Pioneers who settled here and left such a wonderful heritage to us.

A detailed examination of the cemetery can be found here:


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588 Carrol Church Rd, Lavonia, GA, 30553   |   Sunday School 10am - Worship 11am
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