SALT CREEK VALLEY CHURCHES

Traditional rural life in America called for a wide berth- people knew all their neighbors, but those neighbors might be 10 miles away. Salt Creek Valley residents often lived on large farms measuring hundreds of acres. Church provided a weekly gathering place not just for spiritual rejuvenation, but for socializing as well.

While church was an essential social centerpiece, Salt Creek Valley was home to several churches of different Protestant denominations- Paynetown Pentecostal Church, Friendship Separate Baptist Church, Mt. Ebal Baptist Church, and Pine Grove Pentecostal Church. Salt Creek residents like Theo Stillion recounted the importance of church in local life.

As Stillion mentions at the end of the clip, popular entertainment was often forbidden by the churches, so the social highlight of the week were activities like sewing or, in most cases, going to church. Beulah Sipes remembered Sundays as the only day focused on anything other than work.

For the former residents of Salt Creek, church remained a strong symbol of community, perhaps the strongest one left after the flooding. Many of them belonged to the same church congregations, even though they were no longer close to home. The older members met every Sunday, traveling the five to ten miles to the new Paynetown Church. As Lloyd Grubb mentioned in his interview, his family attended the Paynetown Church because the lake completely covered his old one. Grubb said, “I fish where it used to sit.”

In many ways, community was a stronger pull than faith alone. Mary Hays told Morrison that she was a member of the Clear Creek Christian Church, but that she often attended the Pentecostal Church on Herald Road. According to Hays, most of the “Lake People” went there, and so she herself would attend to see old friends and family.