Leach Seventh-day Adventist Church

History of the Leach SDA Church
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HISTORY OF THE
LEACH SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH

 
      The Leach Seventh-day Adventist Church, located 10 miles west of Huntingdon, TN on Highway 70 in the Cedar Grove community, has a rich and interesting history. The church was raised amid persecution and prejudice according to the history of it's beginning. Elder Samuel Fulton not only fought the environmental element in those post-Civil War days, but had to actually be guarded with guns while he preached. Elder Fulton and his wife, along with Brother Billy Dortch, who was the song leader, and his wife pitched a tent near Cedar Grove (on Griggs Chapel road, one mile northeast of where the present church building stands) where they organized a Sabbath School in 1882.

       Early one Sabbath morning, while walking to Sabbath School, nine-year old J.W. Kelly found a note tacked on one of the two white oak trees that stood together near Griggs Chapel which read something like this: "If Elder Fulton preaches anymore we will cut off his head and put it on a stake at the forks of the road." The youngster took the note down from the tree and carried it with him as he hurried on to the meeting place. There he found a group of excited people and saw that the tent had been burned to the ground during the night. The youngster handed the note to some of the people there.

      Night came, and people began to gather to hear Elder Fulton preach. According to history, the devout man got up in Johnny Leach's smokehouse doorway and read the note to the people gathered there. Then he asked the people if they wanted to hear him preach and they said they did, so he said, "Allright, I'll preach!" Anderson Lewis, Fay  Grogan's father and later one of the charter members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and John Ike Reeves along with ten other young men volunteered to guard the elder while he preached since, hearing of the trouble, they had brought their guns with them. Elder Fulton continued his preaching with no further trouble after that eventful night.

      Now because they had no place for meetings, they decided they would build a church. Back then there was plenty of timber and every man knew how to use tools, so they went into the woods, felled the trees, and built the log church that stood for some years on Griggs Chapel Road. They organized this group into the first Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Cedar Grove area in that little log church building in 1883. Charter members were: Brother and Sister Sam Eskew; Brother and Sister Johnny Leach and their daughter, Sophie; Brother and Sister Jim Jolly; Brother and Sister Nathaniel Pearson; Brother and Sister George Cook; Brother Anderson Lewis and his mother, Sister Rachael Jane Lewis, and his sister, Sister Maggie Lewis Williams; and Sister Annie Haynes. There were about thirty members in all.

       Elder Fulton had to leave soon after the church was organized; this left the little church with no leader. Because of this lack of leadership, the church began to dwindle--but always some met each week for Sabbath School at least, at first in the little log church, later in some of the members’ homes.

       In the winter of 1902 and 1903, Elder Hagle and his wife came with a hand organ. He would preach one week in the little log church and the next week at the Christian Chapel, near Leach. Before he left, he reorganized the church with twenty members. They appointed a man to lead, Brother T. W. Kivett. At the 1903 Camp Meeting they asked Brother William Keele to move down here and help strengthen and build up the church. He served as a local Elder for a long time. He was a colporteur, and he gave many Bible readings in the area.

       Elder Roscoe Burr was President of the Tennessee River Conference (as our Conference was then called.) He was born in this area and did all he could to "build up the work here." The Elders met in the little log church until the spring of 1910 when they built a frame church on the land where the present church now stands. Brother B. R. Carter (father of Hattie May Carter-McLeod, wife of the late Elder J. O. McLeod) led out in the building of this new church. Elder A. L. Dickerson later came and was the first District Pastor and the first pastor of the Leach Seventh-day Adventist Church. He, and Elder Donald F. Hanes
later, helped to build up the work in the Cedar Grove area. The Church grew and in 1943, under the leadership of Elder Victor Esquilla, the Church built a brick veneer church on the same property. They met in this brick veneer church until a 1970 windstorm, along with age and deterioration of the structure, led the congregation to begin planning for a new church building. Under the leadership of Elder Gordon Collier, the present church building was erected.

       The charter members believed in Christian Education and the first Church School was conducted in 1883 or 1884 by Sister Samuel Fulton in the little log church. The school closed for a time in the late 1800's and/or early 1900's. The school was re-opened in the late 1920's or early 1930's where the present former school building is located. Mrs. Keele taught there for some years. Sister Eager (Elder Eager's wife) also taught for several years during that time. During the 1940's a Junior Academy (first through tenth grades) was established with Mr. Ira Levering serving as principal. The school closed once again in 1963. Then, in 2001, over 30 years after closing, the Leach Christian School re-opened again with 5 students and Jim Kubecka as teacher. In 2002, the school grew to 8 students and Ken McHenry served as teacher and principal. Leach Christian School once again closed its doors after the 2005-2006 school year and remains closed today.
 
Following is a list of the pastors who have been here since the beginning:
Samuel Fulton 1883   Fred Wilson 1957-1958
Elder Hagle 1902   Kenneth Eager 1958-1962
T.W. Kivett     Elden Wilson 1962-1963
William Keele 1904   Paul Felt 1963-1965
B.R. Carter 1910   Quinton Burke 1965-1968
A.L. Dickerson* 1938-1939   Gordon Collier 1968-1972
Donald Haynes 1939-1940   Luther May 1972-1976
Victor Esquilla 1940-1943   Clarence Southard 1976-1977
William Kuester 1943   Michael Pettengill 1977-1980
Lester Purcell 1943-1944   Fred Fuller 1980-1981
Frank Stauffer 1944-1945   Lawrence Walton 1981-1984
Mel Hillier 1945-1948   Robert Houghton 1984-1985
Charles Cress 1948-1952   Robert Korzniowski 1985-1991
Joe Dobbs 1952-1953   George Carpenter 1992-1993
Charles Boykin 1953-1954   Joe Whedbe 1993-1998
Louis Pettis 1954-1955   Joseph Shafer 1999-2004
H. W. Spiva 1956-1957   Roger Schmidt 2005-2010
Current Pastor: John Baker
*Denotes first official district pastor of the Leach Seventh-day Adventist Church.

This Leach church history was taken form several sources, including an oral history given by Brother Alvin Rosel before his death; reports submitted to the church conference by Sister Amy Fry, who served as church clerk for many years; church records; and published articles by the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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