Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church
The Centerpiece of the Great Smokies of East Tennessee
A Timeless Statement
William Howell Oliver (1857–1940), pastor of the Primitive Baptist Church from 1882 to 1940, explained the imperative of a strict, literal interpretation of Biblical scripture by the Primitive Baptists:
We believe that Jesus Christ himself instituted the Church, that it was perfect at the start, suitably adopted in its organization to every age of the world, to every locality of earth, to every state and condition of the world, to every state and condition of mankind, without any changes or alterations to suit the times, customs, situations, or localities.
The Primitive Baptists remained the dominant religious and political force in the cove, their meetings interrupted only by the Civil War.
Message Preached July 31, 1999
Deuteronomy 34:1-6. "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
1 Corinthians 10:11. "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples:" -- [("type"), i.e. a model (for warning)]-- "and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
Explanation: God had delivered Israel out of bondage and led them through the wilderness. Now it was time for them to enter the land which God had promised to Abraham long, long ago. It was a land which literally flowed with milk and honey. A land which was rich in resources and fitted for development. For reasons which were not hid from Moses, God would not allow him to enter. However, God would not let him die without seeing with his own eyes this beautiful land. After viewing all the beauty of this land. Moses died and was buried by God in one of the valleys of Moab.
Illustration: Many years ago I wanted to show a friend of mine the beauty of Cades Cove. At that time we traveled up the Rich Gap mountain road and topped out just above the Cove. We viewed the lay of the land of the Cove from the upper end to the lower end. My friend stood absolutely astonished at the beauty of the view. At last he uttered the word "eureka." This triumphant exclamation never left the mind of my friend. He never tired of going there where God's handiwork was so evident.
Application: It is passed down that our Great great-grandfather John Oliver entered the Cove via Cades Cove Mountain. I have no idea of the stories which he had heard about the opportunities which lay in store for those who were brave enough to settle this land.
About the year 1818, prompted by a man named Joshua Jobe, John Oliver, with his wife Lurena, came to Cades Cove. I can only envision John Oliver's first view as he topped one of these mountains and viewed the beautiful valley. It must have been like that of my friend, "I have found it." Now what would be done with this land of virtual Canaan? Cades Cove?
He, along with our forefathers, hewed out homes, reared families and fought the elements. It must be tamed by hard labor. God saw a servant whose heart He would touch. In so doing there came forth a rejoicing man, John Oliver, and his wife Lurena Oliver .
"June the 16th, 1827, then met the arm of Wears Cove Church in Cades Cove, and after prayer to God for His blessing proceeds to business.
On June 16, 1827, the first religious organization in Cades Cove was begun with these two [John & Lurena Oliver] joining that movement.
The Primitive Baptist Church in Wears Cove extended an arm to Cades Cove. The "Arm," with Elder Richard Davis as pastor, held regular meetings for two years before being constituted. The following information is taken from the original Church Book of Cades Cove Primitive Baptist.
"April the 11th 1829 then met the arm of the Wears Cove Church in Cades Cove, and after worship proceeded to business. First, we the arm of Wears Cove Church in Cades Cove agree to become a constitution and petitions the body for a dismission from them to become a constitution and appoint our Brethren William Davis and James Johnson to take the petition to the body in Tuckaleechee on their next meeting in course. So dismissed in order." Richard Davis, Moderator. William Davis, Clerk.
"June the 19, 1829, then met the arm of the Wears Cove Church met in Cades Cove and after prayer to God for his mercies proceeded to business. Third order of business, the presbytery called for came forward for the purpose of constituting of a church in Cades Cove, viz., Brother Thomas Hill, Brother Augustine Bowers, and after the necessary examination they ... pronounced them a church." Thomas Hill, Moderator. William Davis, Clerk
Justice William O. Douglas, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, writing in the July 1962 issue of National Geographic, wrote, "The secret of America's great strength was in people like those in Cades Cove."
Colonel Hugh Oliver wrote in his book Sketches of the Olivers,"The Olivers, Caughrons, Myerses, Shieldses, Burchfields, Cables, Coadas, Tiptons, Sparkses, and all the rest parade in memory as the kindest, most thoughtful, most generous people I have known. At the same time they were the proudest and the most independent. I found in Cades Cove the warm heart and the bright conscience of America."
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