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Primitive homeplace: High Shoals Baptist carries on long traditions

Two miles past the Amicalola Falls State Park cabins and down a narrow dirt road is High Shoals Baptist Church.

The unique church does not have any electricity, so services are sometimes held by the light of propane camp lanterns. Propane heaters supply heat in the winter.

The original High Shoals Baptist Church was begun in 1879, serving an area that had been populated from as early as 1823.

The church was founded by a group led by Samuel Roper as minister and deacons Jonathan F. M. West and Samuel Harben. The original church was a common log building with a dirt floor.

No remains of the original building exist now, but it is believed to have been located near the current High Shoals Baptist Church building.

The church and community thrived in the remote mountain area into the early 1900s. In the 1930s, the government began buying parcels of land that would become the Chattahoochee National Forest.

The old High Shoals Baptist Church held its last service in 1934 and was not revived until the 1970s when a group of descendants of the early settlers began having homecoming services at the site.

The new High Shoals Baptist Church was built in 1975 under the leadership of the Rev. Billy Welch. The church now has regular services each third and fifth Sunday of the month, along with an annual homecoming service and occasional singings.

The church has a book on the front porch for visitors to sign and there are messages from people from all over the world that have walked or driven up the road to the peaceful setting of the church.

Pastor Harold Evans now preaches at the church, and the membership is about 60 families, some being descendants of the original congregation.