By Carrie C. Causey
The future is uncertain for a century-old church property off Hwy. 200 in Stanfield.
Behind a row of oak trees sits an unassuming brick building next to a cemetery. In front sits a marker with the words “Clarks Grove Primitive Baptist Church” etched into the stone, one of the few remaining items from the church since it disbanded in 1998 due to a dwindling and aging populations,
For the last 15 years, neighbor J.F. Morgan has been charged with care and maintenance of the property since it was entrusted to him by one of the last members of the church. But feeling the effects of age himself, Morgan is ready to relinquish the responsibility but only if he has the proper approval.
Clarks Grove Primitive Baptist church was built around 1900 and originally had wood siding instead of its current brick façade.
According to his research, Morgan’s grandparents sold 2.5 acres to the church in 1932 with additional land later sold by Jack Huneycutt in the 1950s to complete the 2.9 acre parcel. Stanly County tax records show no other ownership since the church’s establishment.
While he was never a member, Morgan attended the church a few times and described it as being full of “good people.” They follow primitive ways of being seen as more conservative than other Christian faiths, and don’t believe in having things like musical instruments during service. Morgan also remembers the annual tradition of foot washing.
Leaders of the church were members of the Bear Creek Primitive Baptist Association, comprised of representatives from each of the area Primitive Baptist churches in Stanly and surrounding counties. But since the Clarks Grove disbanded, Morgan has been volunteering his time without any direction—but that’s something he wants to change.
“I’m at the point and age where I would like to see a clear direction regarding this church,” Morgan wrote in a letter to The Weekly Post. “I would like to see a younger responsible person that has approval from the Primitive Baptist Association assume responsibility going forward that has interest regarding the church in the near future.” […]