Jersey Baptist Church in Davidson County
Baptistry painting by Stan Allen, 1976
Jersey Baptist Church in Davidson County, North Carolina, is one of the oldest Baptist Churches in the state. Founded in 1755 by pioneers from New Jersey, the Jersey Settlement Meeting House (now Jersey Baptist Church), constructed its present worship space in 1842. Early baptisms were held in nearby Swearing Creek or in another church that had an indoor baptistry. Church members decided in the 1950s to add an indoor baptistry to their sanctuary.
Jersey Baptist Church’s history includes two different baptistry paintings. According to a church history written by Garland Hendricks in 1964, “Mrs. S.A. Sharpe before her death had expressed a desire to place an appropriate painting on the wall at the back side of the baptistry in loving memory of her husband. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Sharpe were given permission to donate such a picture in memory of their mother and father, and the church voted to thank them. Upon completion, the baptistry would be much more complete with such a picture.” The initial painting was completed at about the same time the baptistry was installed in 1957.
According to church members, in that first painting, the river flowed down out of the mountains (from the top of painting) and had red banks. “Some farmers in the congregation,” reports interim pastor Don Durham, “took offense at the red banks. They didn’t want anyone to see that painting and think that any of them would have tended their land so poorly as to let the water wash away the banks like that. They had the painting redone so that that the grass came down to the edge of the water.”