Chambers County Alabama Photos.....Rev. James D. Elder
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Contributed by Don L. Clark June 2006

Rev. James D. Elder

Rev. James D. Elder 1835 - 1901

REV. JAMES D. ELDER was born in Harris County, Georgia, June 15, 1835, and died at his home in Chambers County, Alabama, April 5, 1901. He was the second son of Rev. W. M. J. Elder of the Christian Church. His mother, whose maiden name was Mary J. Birch, was deeply attached to the Christian Church. In 1849, his parents moved to Chambers County, Alabama, which was then a frontier county. He was converted in 1852, and united with the church at New Hope in 1868, on Saturday night before the third Sunday in August.

     He was married to Artlisa Rotton, November 2, 1854. They reared a family of nine children--eight boys and one girl. Of the boys, two, J. W. Elder and H. W. Elder, are preachers in the Christian Church. He lived and died in sight of the old homestead where his parents settled.

     He was licensed to preach the gospel, in August, 1859, and was ordained in October, 1860, In February, 1862 he entered the service of the Confederate Army, in which he remained to the close of the war.

     In 1870, Rev. J. D. Elder was present at the Georgia, and Alabama Conference, and served on the committee on Sabbath schools, and the committee on itinerancy as chairman. And it was agreed that he visit the churches in Georgia twice during the Conference year and that the churches pay the expenses. At the Conference at Pleasant Grove in Chambers County, in 1871, he served on the committee on Periodicals and on Examination of candidates for the ministry. He also served on the presbytery to ordain Rev. M. J. Sorrell. In 1872, he was chosen secretary of the Conference at Providence in Stewart County, Georgia, and served on the committee on church letters and on periodicals. He preached the annual sermon. He was elected president of the Conference, in 1873, which met at New Hope in Chambers County, Alabama, and preached the annual sermon from Daniel 13:4, "Knowledge shall be increased." He was elected a corresponding delegate to the Congregationalist State Conference. In 1874, the Conference was held at Liberty in Randolph County, Alabama, and he was re-elected president. Before this Conference he delivered an address on the "Rise and Progress of the Christian Organization." He served as pastor of New Hope, Liberty, Antioch, and constituted" New Harmony church. During the year he received into the church 120 persons; preached 120 sermons and delivered 26 exhortations; baptized 49 converts; traveled 895 miles. He said, "Never has the prospect been so bright for the Christians in this Conference." In 1875, he was again president. The Conference met at Antioch church in Chambers County. He had served the churches at Liberty, New Harmony and Antioch, and assisted Rev. T. H. Elder at Pleasant Grove and Rev. James L. Neese at New Hope, besides "many wayside appointments." He said in his ministerial report, "The Macedonian cry has come up from many places to which I could not respond. This has been a successful year with me; my labors have been blessed beyond my expectations, but the work is God's and will prevail. I have preached 134 sermons and delivered 86 exhortations; married 5 couples; received 77 into the church and baptized 41, and traveled 2,010 miles." In 1879, he was chosen president of the Conference at Fellowship in Randolph county, Alabama. He had, "preached 62 sermons, delivered 29 exhortations, received into the church 16, baptized 9, married 2 couples, and traveled 577 miles." In 1881, at New Hope he called the Conference to order, and served as chairman of the educational committee. At the Conference at Christianna in Etowah County, Alabama, in 1884, he was unanimously elected president. He was pastor of New Hope and Beulah, and assisted in the organization of Macedonia church in Shinebone Valley, Clay County, Alabama. He preached 104 sermons, delivered 21 exhortations received 67 into the church, baptized 52, married 7 couples, preached 1 funeral, and traveled 1800 miles.

     At the Conference at Pleasant Grove, in 1882, he preached the introductory sermon, and was elected vice-president. He served on the Conference Executive committee. Besides being pastor of New Hope, Beulah, and Pleasant Grove churches, organized Rock Springs and Daviston churches in 1886. He was on the Executive committee which granted license to J. W. Barnes, Texas, and H. W. Elder, both of New Hope church. He spent his whole time in the work. In 1887, the Conference was held at Rock Springs in Randolph County, Alabama, and he was chosen president. He had the pastoral charge of three churches and preached at other places; he preached 126 sermons, delivered 80 exhortations, received 75 members into the church, baptized 82, married 4 couples, delivered 10 funeral sermons, and traveled 1200 miles. He says," When I reflect upon the goodness of God toward me and the congregations I have ministered to, I exclaim with David, 'Oh, that all men would praise the Lord for his wonderful works among the children of men.' Amen." At the Conference at Antioch, in 1888, he preached the annual sermon and was chosen president. His ministerial report shows a busy year, and that he had re-organized the church at New Harmony. In 1889, at the Conference at Beulah, he was chairman of the Executive committee, which reported license granted to Bro. George D. Hunt. In 1890, he was a delegate from the Georgia and Alabama Conference to the General (Southern) Christian Convention which met at Suffolk, Virginia. Before the Convention he preached a most excellent sermon. He impressed the body as a thorough missionary worker and gospel minister.

     At Union Grove in Chambers County, in 1891, he was elected president of the Conference, and was also chairman of the committee on religious literature. At New Hope, in 1892, he was president of the Conference, and chairman of the committee on foreign missions. In 1894, the Conference was held at Red Hill, Alabama, and he served on the committee on religious literature and on ordination. And also he was appointed on the presbytery to ordain Rev. W. A. Fletcher. At the Conference at McGuire's chapel, in 1896, he served on the committee on education, and was requested to write a history of the Georgia and Alabama Conference. In 1897, he was vice-president of the Conference held at Antioch. In 1898, the Conference met at Phnix City, Alabama, and he was appointed on the committee on education and also missionary for one fourth of his time, for which he was to be paid from the home mission funds. In 1899, at Pleasant Grove, he offered the home mission report with emphasis. At the Conference at Beulah, in 1900, he was on the committee on the division of the Georgia and Alabama Conference into two, namely: the Georgia and Alabama Conference, and the Alabama Conference. When the work of division was agreed upon, he was appointed on the Executive committee of the Alabama Christian Conference.

     In 1901, at the Alabama Conference at Rock Springs in Randolph County, the following resolutions were adopted: "1. That in his death the Church has lost a good man, his flock a wise and watchful shepherd, this Conference a safe counselor, the community a good neighbor, the country a noble citizen and the world a shining light. 2. That while we deeply mourn the loss of our dear brother; yet we bow with meek submission to the will of him who doeth all things for the best. 3. That a portion of the hour of 10 A . M., October 26, 1901, be set apart and dedicated to the memory of our sainted brother."

     He was pastor of New Hope church, the mother of churches in the Georgia and Alabama Conference, for many years, which church was just one mile from his residence. He organized the following churches: Pleasant Grove, Liberty, Antioch, Fellowship, New Harmony, Beulah, Daviston, and Rock Springs. He traveled more than 20,000 miles on horseback to preach the word of God. He preached more sermons, conducted more funerals, baptized more converts, received more persons into the fellowship of the church, married more couples, than any one in the county. He freely gave his time, his means, his talents to the Lord's service. None were more faithful in the Lord's service than he, and his zeal for the Christian Church was unsurpassed by any of his co-workers. His long devoted life was spent, laboring faithfully and patiently in defense of the heaven-born principles of the Christian Church, and in declaring the word of eternal life unto dying men. His delight was in comforting the sick and distressed, and helping the poor. He was of great courage, but as gentle as a woman. Ever faithful to his great trust, he never knew when he had done enough.

Source: Lives of Christian Ministers by P. J. Kernodle, 1909.

Note: New Hope Christian Church Cemetery tombstone epitaphs: Rev. J. D. Elder June 15, 1835 - April 11, 1901. Artlisia Elder, wife of Rev. J. D. Elder November __, 1837 - January 9, 1898. (Two markers at gravesite, one has name spelled as Artissa Elder.)

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